Uttarakhand, Centre push for stalled hydro power projects

Thursday, 12 March 2015 15:24 Lathish PV

Supreme CourtIn their affidavits submitted in the Supreme Court, the Uttarakhand Government and the Union Environment Ministry seem to push for hydroelectric power projects (HEPs) in the State. Work on HEPs on the Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi basins was stalled after the August, 2013 order of the Supreme Court.

From the list of 24 projects that were to be reviewed, according to the Supreme Court order, the discussion in the Supreme Court has now come down to six projects – NTPC's Lata Tapovan (171 MW), GMR's Alaknanda Badrinath (300 MW), NHPC's Kotlibhel 1A (195 MW), THDC's Jhellum Tamak (108 MW), and Bhyundar Ganga (24.3 MW) and Khirao Ganga (4 MW) of Super Hydro Electric Power.

In its December 16, 2014 order, the Supreme Court asked that the Environment Ministry to see if the six projects, work on which is stalled after the 2013 disaster, had adequate clearances before the June, 2013 disaster. Based on the order, the Environment Ministry formed a committee of four experts to review the clearances of the six projects.

The committee concluded that "the six projects may not be taken up as they have potential of causing significant impacts on the bio-diversity, riverine system, wildlife and other fragile eco-systems in the areas where these projects are located... As such entire process of according clearances to these processes warrants review."

However, the affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court in February, this year, by the Environment Ministry mentioned only that part of the report which stated the status of clearances. "... the Committee has observed that whatever was mandated in the procedural and substantive requirement of the law for environment clearance, forest clearance, and consent to establish, these projects have not been found deficient in such respect except for wildlife clearances which have not been accorded so far," the ministry's affidavit stated.

The Supreme Court has asked the ministry to file its final affidavit on Thursday, March 12.

The Uttarakhand government, which has written several letters to the Centre requesting it to allow construction of HEPs in the State, also submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court, in February, this year.

The affidavit pushes for HEPs by mentioning economy and development-related reasons. In the affidavit the State government has quoted from reports that delink the 2013 disaster and the construction of HEPs in the State.

A report by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and the Central Water Commission (CWC) mentioned that there was "no link, direct or indirect, between the developments of hydroelectric projects with the Uttarakhand tragedy."

Though in its December affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court, the Environment Ministry dismissed the CEA-CWC report, the State government had used the CEA-CWC report as a support to push forward their agenda of hydroelectric power generation.

Source- The Hindu