National

Four hydro projects violate Ganga flow norms: Central Water Commission

Photo: Twitter/@CWCOfficial_GoI

Photo: Twitter/@CWCOfficial_GoI  

After monsoon, many of the projects are not meeting the mandated ecological flows, says report

Over a year after the government made it mandatory for hydro power projects on the upper reaches of the river Ganga’s tributaries to release minimum quantities of water through the year, 4 of the 11 projects are flouting norms, says a report by the Central Water Commission (CWC).

The ecological flow, or e-flow notification as it is called, specifies that the upper stretches of the Ganga — from its origins in the glaciers and until Haridwar — would have to maintain: 20% of the monthly average flow of the preceding 10-days between November and March, which is the dry season; 25% of the average during the ‘lean season’ of October, April and May; and 30% of monthly average during the monsoon months of June-September.

The CWC is tasked with measuring the flow and ensuring that plants comply with the law. The non-compliant ones are: Maneri Bhali Phase 2 ,Vishnuprayag Hydroelectric project, Srinagar Hydroelectric project and the Pashulok barrage project. The Vishnuprayag and Srinagar projects are on the Alaknanda river, the Maneri Bhali on the Bhagirathi and the Pashulok is on the Ganga main stream.

Moves court

Power company GVK, which runs the Srinagar project, has challenged the e-flow notification in the Uttarakhand High court.

“After monsoon period many of the projects are not meeting the mandated e-flows,” the CWC report says.

The Centre’s e-flow notification came into effect last October and gave companies three years to modify their design plans, if required, to ensure that a minimum amount of water flowed during all seasons. Power producers generally hoard water to create reserves to increase power production.

Deadline advanced

In September 2019, the government advanced this deadline, from October 2021 to December 2019. This was after the CWC undertook field visits to hydro power sites and reported that most of the power projects could begin implementing the norms right away and didn’t need three years.

D.P. Mathuria, a senior official in the National Mission for Clean Ganga, said the government would be sending notices to the offending companies. Violating the e-flow norms can mean closure of the project or a hefty fine but the government isn’t contemplating such action yet.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 12:55:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/four-hydro-projects-violate-ganga-flow-norms-cwc/article30695064.ece

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