Other States

Environment Ministry pushes for hydro-projects in Uttarakhand

With the appointment of the third committee of experts by the Union Environment Ministry to review a few contentious hydroelectric power projects in Uttarakhand, the debate on their feasibility has come down to design changes so that they could be accommodated in the disaster-prone State.

The Ravi Chopra Committee and the Vinod Tare Committee had warned against projects, including the six on which the Supreme Court is yet to give a decision.

The Hindu reviewed the minutes of the two meetings of the newly formed committee held in June and July. Lata Tapovan (171 MW), Alaknanda Badrinath (300 MW), Kotlibhel 1A (195 MW), Jhelum Tamak (128 MW), Bhyundar Ganga (24.8 MW), and Khirao Ganga (4.5 MW) are the projects that will be reviewed again by the new committee.

Design modifications

At a meeting held in July, the developers of the six projects presented design modifications to the new committee, so that they could be implemented once the issues of muck disposal, impact on biodiversity and disaster mitigation plan were addressed. The modifications were discussed last year too, but the first committee rejected them. Since the developers again failed to present acceptable modifications, the committee has said they should come up with the required modifications.

In the latest affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Ministry has also underscored the importance of design modifications, almost sidelining the possibility of cancellation of the projects even if they don’t meet the criteria.

Environmentalists have been objecting to the formation of the new committee, suspecting that the Ministry is forming committee after committee to get the green signal for the contentious projects.

On the formation of the third committee, senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of the South Asia Network on Dams, E. Theophilus of Uttarakhand-based Himal Prakriti, and Bharat Jhunjhunwala, a former professor of the IIM-Bangalore, had written to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.

‘A violation’

“Not only is this a violation but also a clear indication of your ministry’s mala’fide intentions to overwrite and compromise the findings of previous committees…..It is hence clear that till the time you [Mr. Javadekar] do not get a report that gives a green signal to these hydropower projects you will continue to form one committee after another, regardless of the reality on ground,” they said.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 12:57:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/environment-ministry-pushes-for-hydroprojects-in-uttarakhand/article7519180.ece

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