Ministry pours cold water on filling Maheshwar reservoir

December 29, 2012 12:00 am | Updated 05:15 am IST - New Delhi:

Relief & Rehabilitation works yet to be completed by promoters

The Union Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) has recommended against filling the Maheshwar dam reservoir up to 154 metres since the project promoters, Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Ltd (SMHPCL), had not completed the required relief and rehabilitation (R & R) works yet.

Last month, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had directed the Ministry of Environment & Forests to visit the dam site and submit a report regarding the status of relief and rehabilitation and the feasibility of filling the dam up to 154 metres.

Consequently, an MoEF committee comprising S.K. Haldar of the Central Water Commission, Ajay Mehrotra of the MoEF and the Khargone District Collector had visited the dam site and six sample villages earlier this month and submitted a report to the NGT on December 19. The next hearing of the case is scheduled for January 17.

In its report, a copy of which is with The Hindu , the committee has observed that “Relief and Rehabilitation works have not been completed by M/s SMHPCL”.

“Since connected R & R works are yet to be completed, filling the reservoir up to 154 m cannot be considered,” the committee has noted. Further, the committee found that against Rs.740 crore required for R & R works, the SMHPCL provided only Rs. 203.42 crore.

In May this year, the MoEF had allowed the 400 MW Maheshwar dam, India’s first privately financed hydro-electric project, to be filled up to 154 metres.

The NBA challenged this in the National Green Tribunal which stayed the order in June. However, in August the tribunal allowed the filling up of the dam up to 154 metres.

The committee report also noted that on August 7 the water level was between 154.3 and 155.5 metres, which caused the submergence of several houses in six villages.

Further, it noted the water at 154 metres would submerge electricity transmission lines which would need to be relocated at a cost of Rs. 2.5 crore. The amount had not been released by the SMHPCL, the report noted.

However, in a statement released earlier this week, the SMHPCL claimed the submergence of August 7 occurred due to the monsoon. “The MoEF committee has attested to the fact that no population would be submerged at 154 metres,” the SMHPCL said, accusing the NBA of misrepresenting the Ministry’s report.

“The filling up of the reservoir up to 154 metres will be done only under the supervision of the MoEF committee and the submergence of any electricity and water supply systems would be compensated by SMHPCL,” the statement claimed.

On the other hand, the NBA has claimed that SMHPCL was levelling false accusations.

“They are just frustrated after being exposed in the MoEF report for their false claims on relief and rehabilitation,” NBA leader Alok Agarwal told The Hindu over phone.

Top News Today


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.