Development does not mean destroying nature, the National Green Tribunal has said while slapping an environment compensation of Rs 50 lakh on Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC) for throwing debris of its Vishnugad Pipalkoti Hydro Electric Project in the Alaknanda river. Coming down heavily on THDC, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, held it responsible for polluting the river and restrained it from throwing any “muck, soil and stones” by carrying out blasting in the floodplains of the water body.
“The photographs placed on record clearly show that even the colour of the water has changed along the course of the river. These are uncondonable breaches and actions. Development does not mean destruction of nature,” the bench which also included Justice R S Rathore, said. “Respondent no 1 (THDC) has certainly violated the spirit of Principle of Sustainable Development and therefore must bear consequences that will follow in law in the facts of the present case,” it said, while directing THDC to pay the amount within two weeks.
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The green panel also directed that Rs 20 lakh should be recovered from sub-contractors operating on behalf of THDC who were responsible for excavation and dumping the waste into the river.
Tehri Hydro was also ordered by the NGT to maintain computerised records about the nature and quantity of excavated material from blasting of stones and maintain records of all vehicles, to be fitted with GPS system in two weeks, being operated by the project proponent.
The NGT also issued notice to the Uttarakhand Public Works Department on the basis of THDC’s disclosure that they were dumping muck and construction waste into the water bodies and nallahs. PWD has to submit its response by April 28.
The order came on the plea filed by environmental activist Vimal Bhai who had alleged that muck was being dumped in Alaknanda illegally and sought cancellation of the Environment Clearance of the project due to non-compliance of the conditions.
The project had been conceived with an installed capacity of 444 MW. The project was to build a 65 metre diversion dam near Helang village in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand and create a small reservoir in Alaknanda.