Big boost for Uttarakhand! After 42 years a dam project in Uttarakhand has been revived by the Central government. The project had been suspended 20 years ago. With Union Minister of Water Resources Nitin Gadkari signing a MoU with Chief Ministers of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan, the Lakhwar Multipurpose Project, worth Rs 3,966.51 crore recently got the go-ahead. The upcoming 204-m concrete dam in the upper Yamuna basin near Uttarakhand’s Lohari village is said to provide water for drinking, domestic and industrial use in the six basin states.
According to officials quoted in an IE report, it is the first of the three big projects that are planned in the region. They also claimed that once the project is complete, Uttarakhand will get the benefit of power generation. According to Gadkari, the aim is to tackle pollution in the Yamuna, and he also said that 34 projects are being taken up on the river of which 12 are in the capital.
A plea submitted in the National Green Tribunal in the year 2015, however, pointed out that the environmental clearance letter granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in the year 1987 was an approval for the composite Lakhwar-Vyasi project, which has since been bifurcated. An expert appraisal committee meeting was referred, which held on November 11 and 12, 2010, in which it mentioned that several issues were raised.
The minutes of the EAC meeting stated that it is quite obvious the developers have provided piecemeal documents with no linkage, particularly on the environment aspects. Also, it noted that the Detailed Project Report does not show the requisite form for scoping clearance. It further stated that instead, a long checklist necessary for TEC of CWC/CEA is included, which is not at all relevant for environmental scoping. As per the reservoir operation study for 1974-75, the project generates 4-8 hours of electricity on daily basis thereby grossly altering the existing hydrological regime of the river. The EAC further stated that in view of the facts that part of the Lakhwar dam complex construction is already done, the environmental impacts have occurred and it also further questioned, how do the developers address this issue. According to the report, the plea is likely to come up for hearing on September 11. The Ministry of Environment and Forests is expected to clarify its stand.