In a glimmer of hope for six hydel projects in North Sikkim with a projected generation capacity of 1047 MW, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) has sought complete technical data for consideration of its earlier decision to put them on hold.
Complete technical data from a competent resource should be furnished for further consideration of its decision to stall six proposed hydel projects in the Chungthang Valley in North Sikkim, MOEF Additional Secretary J M Mauskar has demanded in a letter to the state government, official sources said.
The state government had written to the MOEF last month urging it to review its decision to withhold the six hydel projects.
It had stated that the developers would take utmost care of the concerns raised by the Centre for the Inter—disciplinary Studies of Mountain and Hill Environment (CISME) report on the carrying capacity of the Teesta river.
The state government urged the MOEF to grant permission to the developers to go ahead with investigation into the detailed project-specific information for critical examination by the state and the Centre to assess environmental impact of the hydel projects.
The state government had said that the authorities had the option to take a decision on the hydel projects at any stage after investigation.
Only those projects found to be viable from geo-technical and hydrological angles and were environmentally sustainable should be allowed to be developed, the state government had said in its plea to the MOEF.
The state government had assured that it would provide concrete measures and pragmatic strategy to preserve the environmental sensitivity of Chungthang Valley and put in place adequate environmental protection measures.
Making a case for the viability of the six hydel projects, the state government also questioned the contention of the CISME report about the availability of ‘little geological information from the area and the region being prone to landslides’ it said the report did not substantiate the arguments.
The Chungthang valley represents a stable geological domain, the state government claimed while seeking to nullify the contention of the CISME report that it was geologically sensitive located in a young Himalayan mountain range.
The MOEF had directed the state government two months ago to stall construction at the six proposed hydel projects (Teesta Stage I - 280 MW), Teesta Stage II (330 MW), Lachen (280 MW), Lachung (99 MW), BOP (99 MW) and Bimkyong (99 MW) citing the CISME report which had questioned the viability of these projects.