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Home News Power Sector News Uttarakhand government pushes for 10 Hydro-Electricity Projects in Bhagirathi

Uttarakhand government pushes for 10 Hydro-Electricity Projects in Bhagirathi

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BhagirathiThe Uttarakhand government has once again proposed construction of 10 Hydro-Electricity Projects (HEPs) on Bhagirathi river, with a total capacity of 82MW, in its revised draft zonal master plan on Bhagirathi Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ).

The draft has been shared with Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) and prima facie the ministry is not in favour of the projects as they will be in violation of the 2012 Bhagirathi ESZ notification.

After seeking views from MoWR and an expert committee formed to prepare the master plan, the Uttarakhand government will submit it to the Environment ministry.

The National Green Tribunal had ordered Uttarakhand government to prepare a fresh master plan last year after the state's previous master plan was rejected by the Environment ministry and MoWR. Centre had issued the Bhagirathi ESZ notification in 2012 to protect the 100-km long fragile and pristine stretch of Ganga between Gaumukh and Uttarkashi. It covers over 4,179 sqkms and regulates development. The notification only allows for micro HEPs up to 2MW, whereas the master plan proposes small HEPs up to 25MW.

Justifying the projects, the Uttarakhand government said that the 10 HEPs are under different stages of implementation and were allocated to developers prior to the issuance of ESZ notification. It said that small HEPs have been categorized under White slab as per the Central Pollution Control Board guidelines of 2016.

Uttarakhand's chief secretary Utpal Kumar Singh said he could not comment on the draft master plan, but added that the state wanted to harness hydropower in an environmentally sustainable manner.

On May 2, the draft plan was discussed with the expert committee. Professor Vinod Tare of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, said that he would support the HEPs if they are built without affecting the river's morphology and if a minimum ecological flow is maintained, as recommended by the Centre.

In the past too, MoWR secretary Shashi Shekhar had staunchly opposed the plan to build HEPs above 2MW and had written to Environment ministry for initially supporting this plan. He had termed this plan as a dilution of the Bhagirathi ESZ notification.
The 10 HEPs

Asiganga-I (4.50MW), Asiganga-II (4.50MW), Kaidigad (9MW), Suwangad (2MW), Limchagad (3.5MW), Pilangad-II (4MW), Songad (7MW), Siyangad (11.5MW), Kakoragad (12.5MW), Jalandharigad (24MW)


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