The government on Thursday recommended implementation of three of the six hydro electric power (HEP) projects which were earlier recommended for cancellation due to their biodiversity impacts on Alaknanda and Bhagirath river basins in Uttarakhand.
Citing its policy decision and the experts body’s report, the environment and forest ministry (MoEF) told the Supreme Court that the implementation of the three projects — NTPC’s (Lata Tapavan 171 MW ), Super Hydro (Khironi Ganga-4 MW and Bhyunder Ganga-24 MW) — may be done in
accordance with strict compliance of the recommendations, which also included obtaining final approval from designated authorities.
However, it said the two HEPs – NHPC’s (Kotlibhel IA-195 MW) and GMR’s (Alaknanda-300MW) —should be asked to carry out considerable design modifications to meet the policy stipulations. The ministry further sought nine months time to complete the study on other nine projects.
Taking note of the spirit of the conclusions reached in the conference held at Haridwar in December 1916, it said: “The three major contributing stream of river Ganga are Alaknanda, Bhagirathi, and Mandakini, and in having regard to the spirit of 1916 agreement, free and unfettered and uninterrupted flow of natural course of water upto the level of 1,000 cusecs in the river has to be maintained while designing any structure across these three mainstreams to ensure that there is no dry stretches downstream of such structures and there is a continuous flow of natural stream.”
The reply has come pursuant to bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra asking the government to file its policy decision and project-wise status report with regard to the feasibility of allowing construction of hydropower projects in the state.
The apex court had imposed a blanket stay on construction of 24 hydro projects, including these, after the floods in the state in June 2013. It had also directed the MoEF and the state government to not grant environmental or forest clearance for any hydroelectric power project until further orders. However, the court last year clarified that it was dealing with only 24 projects.