We will send geologists to survey the area, says SDM

Villagers have begun a protest at Joshimath against work on the 171-MW Lata-Tapovan hydroelectric power project which, they say is flouting environmental norms.

The protest against the National Thermal Power Corporation project on the Dhauliganga river in Chamoli district started on Monday They plan to continue the protest till the issues regarding the project work are resolved.

Atul Sati, CPI (M-L) member of the Garhwal committee said, “Blasts are being conducted for construction of an underground tunnel for the project.”

The tunnel passes under the mountain on which the Jugju and the Juaguad villages are located. Locals complain that their villages are sinking owing to work on the tunnel and the regular blasts exacerbate the condition.

Around 60 families in the villages are being affected by the blasts. Mr. Sati said: “A road is being constructed by the project authorities to reach the tunnel. The muck that is removed in the process in being deposited near the Dhauliganga river.”

Flash floods likely

The mid-June deluge in Uttarakhand has resulted in a rise in the level of the riverbed.

Mr. Sati said the muck that is being deposited on the sides of the river will eventually elevate the level of the riverbed and result in flash floods during the next monsoon.

During a public hearing on the project in 2009, villagers objected to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report — prepared for getting clearance for the project — saying that it was based on false data, Mr. Sati said.

Joshimath Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) A. P. Vajpai said, “ People are complaining that the villages are sinking. We will send geologists to survey the area. The issue of dumping of muck near the river has been raised earlier as well. The project site is under constant supervision to stop such activities.”

However, Mr. Sati alleged that no steps were being taken by the district administration to check violation of environmental norms.