The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to take a balanced and holistic view on the cluster of six hydroelectric power projects, which claim to have all necessary environmental clearances, wanting to resume construction work on the Alaknanda and Bhagirath river basins in Uttarakhand.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra directed the MoEF to take a fresh look at the projects when Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the government would scrap all projects if it found any flaw with them. At this the bench advised the government against any impulsive decision, saying hydro power projects were the cheapest and environment-friendly ventures. It gave two months to the Centre to give its feasibility report on the six projects. They are Jhala Koti, NTPC’s Lata Tapovan, Bhyundar Ganga, Kotibhel-IA, GMR’s Alaknanda Badrinath and Khirao Gango.
While seeking the Attorney General’s aid in deciding the future of the hydroelectricity projects, the bench made it clear that if the government decided to scrap the projects in the aftermath of last year’s disaster, it should undertake to compensate the firms. “Government should undertake to pay them money if they want to scrap the projects… the government must look at tapping natural resources for electricity,” Justice Misra had observed, slamming the MoEF for failing to give a comprehensive project-wise environment and ecological impact report on all 24 hydroelectric projects.
The apex court had imposed a blanket stay on construction of 24 hydro projects after last year’s disaster. It had directed the MoEF and Uttarakhand government not to grant clearance for any hydroelectric power project.