High-level panel suggests scrapping of 23 power projects in Uttarakhand

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 30 2014, 22:07pm hrs
At least 23 power projects should be scrapped in Uttarakhand, a high-level committee of the Environment Ministry has recommended while partly blaming hydro-power plants for the devastation caused by flash floods in the state last year.

After considerable discussions and analysis, the expert body concluded that of the 24 proposed hydropower projects (HEPs) that the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) recommended for review, 23 HEPs would have significant irreversible impacts on biodiversity values.

The EB recommends that for the 23 proposed HEPs out of the 24 identified by WII that would have irreversible impacts on the biodiversity of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi Basins, the HEPs that fall in any of the following conditions should not be approved for construction, the report said.

The report, Assessment of environmental degradation and impact of hydroelectric projects during the June 2013 disaster in Uttarakhand, was submitted to the Environment Ministry on April 16.

The committee was appointed by the ministry in October 2013 following a Supreme Court order.

The expert body headed by Dr Ravi Chopra stated that enhanced sediment availability from and in paraglacial zones could be a serious problem for the longevity of the existing, under construction and proposed hydro power projects in Uttarakhand.

Therefore, EB recommends that the terrain above the MCT in general and above the winter snow line in particular should be kept free from hydropower interventions in Uttarakhand, the report said.

Noting that since the Himalayas are a vital source of growth and abundance, the committee also suggested a National Himalayan Policy.