Hydropower Performance · Sutlej

Hydropower Generation Performance in Sutlej River Basin

The Sutlej River Basin is the major part of Indus River Basin. It is the easternmost tributary of the Indus River. It rises near the Darma Pass near Mansarovar Lake, enters the Zarkar range and flows through Tibet before entering India. It cuts through the Great Himalayan range and the outer Himalayas and enters the plains at Roper. It receives the Beas River at Harike at Punjab and forms the boundary between India and Pakistan for nearly 120 km. It finally enters Pakistan near Sulemanki.

The project wise generation data of large hydro (above 25 MW) with installed capacity of the basin in the latest year 2012-13 is follows.

SN Projects

State

Inst Capacity  (MW)

Generation (MU)

MU/MW

1 Sanjay Bhabha

Himachal Pradesh

120

365

3.04

2 Baspa-II

Himachal Pradesh

300

1240

4.13

3 Nathpa Jhakri

Himachal Pradesh

1500

6778

4.52

4 Bhakra

Himachal Pradesh

1325

4707

3.55

5 Ganguwal

Punjab

77.65

593

7.64

6 Kotla

Punjab

77.65

600

7.73

7 AP Sahib

Punjab

134

639

4.77

8 Karchham Wangtoo*

Himachal Pradesh

1000

4057

4.6

  Total

4534.3

18979

4.19

* The Generation figure of Karchham Wangtoo is available for one year only as it commissioned in the year 2011.

 Sutlej_Performance

  • The above graph shows the trend line of power generation of large Hydropower projects for last 28 years in the Sutlej basin. The trend-line shows diminishing generation from existing hydro power projects of Sutlej River Basin.
  • It shows that the per MW generation in 2012-13 (4.19) has dropped by a huge 31.09% from the highest per MW generation (6.08) achieved in the year 1998-99.
  • All generation figures have been taken from official data of Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
KarchamWangtoo HEP
1000 MW KarchamWangtoo HEP
Muck dumped from Karcham Wangtoo project into the Sutlej photo from :http://adrianomarzi.photoshelter.com/
Muck dumped from Karcham Wangtoo project into the Sutlej photo from :http://adrianomarzi.photoshelter.com/

 

List of other projects (up to 25 MW) under operation (for which latest generation figures not available):

SN Project

Ins Cap (MW)

State

1 Rukti

1.50

Himachal Pradesh
2 Chaba

1.75

Himachal Pradesh
3 Rongtong

2.00

Himachal Pradesh
4 Nogli

2.50

Himachal Pradesh
5 Titang

0.90

Himachal Pradesh
6 Lingti

0.40

Himachal Pradesh
11 Ghanvi

22.50

Himachal Pradesh
 

Total

31.55

 

Source: http://www.hpseb.com/hydro_potential.htm

List of proposed and under construction projects in the basin:

  Project

Ins Cap (MW)

State

Status

1 Kol Dam

800

Himachal Pradesh Under Construction
2 Rampur

412

Himachal Pradesh Under Construction
3 Kashang-I

165

Himachal Pradesh Under Construction
4 Kasang-IV

48

Himachal Pradesh Under Construction
5 Shorang

100

Himachal Pradesh Under Construction
6 Raura

8

Himachal Pradesh Under Construction
7 Ghanvi-II

10

Himachal Pradesh Under Construction
8 Bhaba Aug.PH

4.5

Himachal Pradesh Under Construction
9 Chango-Yangthang HEP

180

Himachal Pradesh EAC TOR Approved
10 Lara Sumta

104

Himachal Pradesh EAC TOR Approved
11 Luhri HEP

775

Himachal Pradesh EAC & FAC  Recommended
12 Shongtong-Karcham HEP

402

Himachal Pradesh EAC& FAC Recommended, (Under stay order of HC)
13 Sumta Kathang

130

Himachal Pradesh EAC TOR Approved
14 Tidong -I

100

Himachal Pradesh EAC Recommended
15 Tidong -II

60

Himachal Pradesh EAC Under consideration
16 Yangthang – Khab HEP

261

Himachal Pradesh EAC TOR Approved
17 Kashang -Stage II & III HEP

130

Himachal Pradesh FAC Recommended
18 Jangi Thopan

480

Himachal Pradesh Proposed
19 Khab-I

450

Himachal Pradesh Proposed
20 Khab-II

186

Himachal Pradesh Proposed
21 Kuling Lara

40

Himachal Pradesh Proposed
22 Kut

24

Himachal Pradesh Proposed
23 Mane Nadang

70

Himachal Pradesh Proposed
24 Poo Spiloo

300

Himachal Pradesh Proposed
25 Ropa

60

Himachal Pradesh Proposed
26 Thopan Powari

480

Himachal Pradesh Proposed
27 Bahairari

5.5

Himachal Pradesh Proposed
28 Lara

60

Himachal Pradesh Proposed
29 Baspa

210

Himachal Pradesh Proposed
  Total

6055

EAC: Expert Appraisal Committee of MoEF; FAC: Forest Advisory Committee of MoEF

Source: http://www.hpseb.com/hydro_potential.htm; http://envfor.nic.in

Underground Tunnel at Nathpa Jhakri Project
Underground Tunnel at Nathpa Jhakri Project
1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Project
1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Project

 

 Map of Hydroelectric Projects in Sutlej River Basin available at:

https://sandrp.in/basin_maps/Hydropower_Projects_in_%20Sutlej_River_Basin.pdf

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (www.sandrp.in)                                           July 2013

ht.sandrp@gmail.com

Hydropower · Hydropower Performance · Indus

HydroPower Performance in Indus Basin

Indus river rises in the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and then enters Pakistan via the Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan), flowing through the North in a southerly direction along the entire length of Pakistan, to merge into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi in Sindh.

The Sub-basin wise generation data of large hydro with installed capacity of the basin in the latest year 2012-13.

Projects

Inst Capacity  (MW)

Generation (MU)

MU/MW

Sutlej

4534.3

18979

4.19

Beas

2267

9125

4.03

Ravi

2059

7383

3.59

Chenab

1530

8159

5.33

Jhelum

690

3828

5.55

Total

11080.3

47474

4.28

indus

  • The above graph shows the trend line of power generation of Big Hydropower projects for last 28 years in the basin, the trend-line shows diminishing generation from existing hydro power projects of Indus River Basin.
  • It shows that the per MW generation in 2012-13 (4.28) has dropped by a huge 17.69% from the highest per MW generation (5.2) achieved in the year 1988-89.
  • All generation figures have been taken from official data of Central Electricity Authority (CEA).

List of other projects (up to 25 MW) under operation (for which latest generation figures not available):

SN Project

Ins Cap (MW)

State

In main basin

 

1 Iqbal

3.75

Jammu & Kashmir
2 Hunder

0.40

Jammu & Kashmir
3 Sumoor

0.10

Jammu & Kashmir
4 Igo-Mercellong

3

Jammu & Kashmir
5 Haftal

1

Jammu & Kashmir
6 Marpachoo

0.75

Jammu & Kashmir
7 Bazgo

0.30

Jammu & Kashmir
8 Stakna

4

Jammu & Kashmir
Total

13.30

In Sub Basins
1 Sutlej

31.55

Himachal Pradesh
2 Beas

61.8

Himachal Pradesh
3 Ravi

110.6

HP, J&K and Punjab
4 Chenab

33.8

Jammu & Kashmir
5 Jhelum

51.6

Jammu & Kashmir
 

Grand Total

302.65

 

Source: http://www.hpseb.com/hydro_potential.htm

http://jkspdc.nic.in/exist.htm

List of proposed and under construction projects in the basin:

  Project

Ins Cap (MW)

State

Status

In Main Basin

 

1 Rongdo

9

Proposed IPP Project
2 Bairaas

9

Proposed IPP Project
3 Tamasha

9

Proposed IPP Project
Total

27

In Sub Basins
1 Sutlej

6055

Himachal Pradesh
2 Beas

3270.1

Himachal Pradesh
3 Ravi

1292

HP, J&K
4 Chenab

8225

HP, J&K
5 Jhelum

864.55

Jammu & Kashmir
Grand Total

19733.65

Source: http://jkspdc.nic.in/up.htm

http://www.hpseb.com/hydro_potential.htm

http://envfor.nic.in

Map of Hydroelectric Projects in Indus River Basin available at:

https://sandrp.in/basin_maps/Hydropower_Projects_in_Indus_Basin.pdf

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (www.sandrp.in)                                           July 2013

ht.sandrp@gmail.com

Environment Impact Assessment · Western Ghats

No Chief Minister Sir, we are not doing social/ecological assessment of large dam projects

Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was the Chief Guest for one day symposium regarding water management in Maharashtra organised by the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics in Pune on the 2nd of July 2013.

In his address, the CM raised a number of important topics about water management in Maharashtra. Some of his thoughts were encouraging. He talked about the problems and expense of large irrigation projects, their underperformance and underlined the need for decentralised water management systems. He mentioned that the 2000 crores spent on tankers and animal shelters during 2013 drought was an avoidable expense, if we had developed decentralised water sources. He highlighted the problems of water regulatory authorities like MWRRA. He also mentioned that improper dam operation is a reason behind many disasters like the floods in Surat in 2006 due to Ukai Dam, Sangli floods due to mismanagement of Almatti Dam and stressed that Maharashtra should be concerned about this.

Significantly, he mentioned that while we are assessing the economic costs and efficiency of large dams, we are not looking at their social and ecological and that such assessments should take place. He also said that there should be an in-depth study on the ecological costs of these projects. This is a very welcome statement.

In reality, there has been a huge gap on what he said and what is happening on the ground.

The most blatant example of this is the Kalu Dam where work has stopped currently due to a stay order by the Hon. Bombay High Court. This dam is coming up in the Murbad block of Thane District and falls entirely in the tribal sub plan area and ecologically sensitive region of the Western Ghats. It is set to submerge 1000 hectares of Western Ghats forests and will affect more than 18000 primarily tribal population. The dam, being built by the Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC,) has not done any Social Impact Assessment as per the National Rehabilitation Policy. Nor has it undertaken an Environmental Impact Assessment or Cumulative Impacts Assessment of its impact on the Forests. The individual and community Forest Rights have not been settled, in violation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Despite all this, the construction started illegally, without a Forest Clearance and is halted only because of a petition filed in the High Court by Shramik Mukti Sangathana.

Illegal Work on Kalu Dam Site by FA Constructions Photo: SANDRP, May 2011
Illegal Work on Kalu Dam Site by FA Constructions Photo: SANDRP, May 2011

The Forest Clearance of this dam was rightfully rejected in 2012 by the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). But exactly a year later the Forest Advisory Committee went back on its decision and gave Forest Clearance to this project unjustifiably.

One of the important reasons as, stated by the FAC in in its minutes is that

“(The FAC) also noted that Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharshtra has specifically requested for a review of the decision of the Forest Advisory Committee” (FAC Minutes 3-4th April 2013)

How is it that the CM actually pushed for a Forest Clearance which would destroy over one lakh trees in Western Ghats, without any studies or options assessment?

When we asked this to the CM after this meeting, he replied that there is no law which says that EIA study for a drinking water supply dam is needed. While this is true and attributed to the erroneous omission in the EIA notification 2006, there is no law which says that such studies should not be conducted! Especially for a dam which is going to submerge 1000 hectares of forests and affect 18000 tribals! A Chief Minister with vision would in fact ask for such studies suo motto.

Dams around Mumbai which are mainly for drinking and industrial water supply can together submerge more than 6000 hectares of Forest. Even the State Forest Department under the Chief Minister himself has said that EIA of Kalu Dam is necessary. Chief Conservator of Forests, Central Circle has said that Cumulative impact Assessment of Dams coming up around Mumbai is necessary.

In this scenario, rather than urgently demanding for such a study the CM has in fact pressurised the FAC into giving a Forest Clearance to Kalu Project, WITHOUT any assessments.

Forests in Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary. 750 hectares of these primer forests will be submerged for the Gargai Dam. Photo: SANDRP
Forests in Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary. 750 hectares of these primer forests will be submerged for the Gargai Dam. Photo: SANDRP

During his speech, the CM said how important afforestation is. He said that he has asked all departments to undertake afforestation. “The issue is so important that even tanker water should be given for afforestation”. When afforestation is so important, why are we submerging last remaining forests of  Western Ghats without any studies?

Misrepresentation of Western Ghats Expert Ecology Panel (WGEEP) Report: The CM also said that WGEEP Report has banned all development from Gujarat to Kerala and that the on-going laterite stone mining in Sindhudurga-Ratnagiri districts  is a result of WGEEP which will hamper development in these places. It has laid a blanket ban on development.

CM seems to be entirely misinformed on this count. Firstly the laterite stone mining ban has nothing to do with WGEEP Report, but is in place due to a Supreme Court Order. This point has been reiterated several times and it is surprising to see the CM still claiming this. Secondly the WGEEP has not banned developmental activities, but has said that local communities should be in the driving seat while taking decisions affecting their regions. This is also upheld by several laws including the Forest Rights Act. So CMs statement about the WGEEP is clearly ill informed.

It was great to see the CM mention Climate Change, its impacts, need for advanced weather monitoring, etc. It was also good to hear from him about ecological importance for rivers and their flow. It will be good if environmental flows are released from dams of Maharashtra, as also upheld by the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal. This is currently not happening.

The CM seems to have progressive opinions about water and natural resource management. Hence, we are sure that the CM will demand for an Environment Impact Assessment, Social Impact Assessment and Cumulative Impact Assessment of dams coming up around Mumbai, especially Kalu Dam and will take a critical look at dams coming up across Western Ghats in Konkan being undertaken by KIDC, breaking laws like Forest Conservation Act, Forest Rights Act, Environment Protection Act, National Rehabilitation Policy with impunity. In fact he should see that KIDC and contractors which started work illegally are brought to the books.

We hope that the CM walks his talk about decentralised water management and valuing ecology.

-Parineeta Dandekar and Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP

Indavi Tulpule, Shramik Mukti Sangathana

Suhas Kolhekar, Convener, NAPM Maharashtra

Assam · Floods

CWC Flood Forecast for Assam: Issues Started Arriving before Floods

The season of flood havoc has just started in Assam. The Assam State Disaster Management Authority in its daily report published on 28th June 2013, stated that in the last 24 hours 55 villages in Dhemaji, Lakhimpur and Tinsukia district have been affected by flood. All three of these districts are located in upper Assam and three of them shares borders with Arunachal Pradesh. Dhemaji till now is the worst affected among these three. In this district, 13 villages in Dhemaji revenue circle, 28 villages in Sissiborgaon revenue circle and 7 villages in Gogamukh revenue circle has been affected. In Lakhimpur 1 village in Subansiri revenue circle and 6 villages of Doomdooma revenue circle in Tinisukia district has been affected by floods. The report also said that the cumulative number of villages affected till 28th was 70 in four districts which include Golaghat, Kamrup, Jorhat and Karimganj.

Even though Dhemaji has faced severe floods, there is no forecasting about these floods in the Central Water Commission’s (CWC hereafter) flood forecasting website http://www.india-water.com/ffs/index.htm. SANDRP had prepared a map of CWC’s flood forecasting sites in Assam. If we look at this map, we find that there is no flood forecasting site in Dhemaji district even though that is one of the worst flood affected districts in the state. This is a serious lacuna on the part of CWC.

Map of Flood Forecasting Sites in Assam prepared by SANDRP
Map of Flood Forecasting Sites in Assam prepared by SANDRP

Dhemaji has a long drawn history of devastating floods. The district website lists 20 rivers in Dhemaji Embankment & Drainage division along with other smaller tributaries. The 20 relatively bigger rivers of the district include Brahmaputra, Silley, Sibia, Leko, Jonai Korong, Dikhari, Narod, Somkhong, Tongani,  Burisuti,  Simen, Dimow,  Gainadi, Moridhal, Jiadhal/Kumotia, Korha/Sila,  Charikaria, Nonoi, Sampara Suti and Subansiri.

Map of Dhemaji District  Source - http://dhemaji.nic.in/flood/early_warning_system.htm
Map of Dhemaji District
Source – http://dhemaji.nic.in/flood/early_warning_system.htm

Several rivers and areas in Dhemaji district are known for catastrophic floods. One such river is Jiadhal River in Gogamukh revenue circle. Jiadhal emerges in the Lower Himalayan ranges of West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh and flows through Dhemaji district to meet the Subansiri River. This river has a catchment area of 1205.41sq km and majority of its catchment lies in the plains of Assam ( 835sq km) where it creates devastation every year. Samrajan is the area which majorly faces the brunt of floods of Jiadhal. This river is known for frequent changing of its course which had brought disasters to this area. The ongoing floods in the Gogamukh revenue circle are mainly created by Jidhal, Kumatiya and Na-Nodi. Jiadhal is one of the rivers where CWC must put up a flood forecasting site.

The CWC should also consider putting up a flood forecasting site in the Brahmaputra in Jonai subdivision of Dhemaji district. This subdivision is in the immediate downstream of the confluence point of the three rivers Dihang, Dibang and Lohit, creating a larger Brahmaputra. In a report published in a regional newspaper on 28th June 2013, it was stated that in the Jonai subdivision had faced severe inundation done by the Brahmputra and its tributaries. But CWC website has no information about this as the flood forecasting is available on for Dibrugarh.

Besides, in Lakhimpur district CWC has only one flood forecasting which is in the SubansiriRiver. But Ranganadi is another major river which inundates a substantial area of the district every year. In fact there was a catastrophic flood on 28th July 2008 in the river due to the release of water from the Ranganadi hydroelectric project located in the upper reaches of the river. In such a situation it is very important that the river should come under the flood forecasting map of CWC.

Questions over Accuracy of the Existing Flood Forecasting 

The existing flood forecasting done by CWC is also not very accurate. We can take the case of Jiabharali River here. Even though the CWC had been forecasting ‘falling’ in water levels, in reality it is crossing the previous day levels.

Date Actual Level (meter) Forecast (meter) Trend indicated Flood Category
25-06-13 76.08 76.20 Falling Low Flood
26-06-13 76.33 76.55 Rising Low Flood
27-06-13 77.20 77.15 Falling Moderate Flood
28-06-13 77.55 77.50 Falling Moderate Flood
29-06-13 77.75 77.60 Falling Moderate Flood

On June 11 2013, CWC had done another major blunder when its flood forecast site reported that water level of BrahmaputraRiver at Neamatighat site in Jorhat district had reached 94.21 meter at 0900 hrs on that day, which was 6.84 m above the highest flood level of the site at 87.37 m. The flood forecast site also forecasted that the level will be 94.15 m at 0900 am on June 12, 2013. Both the recording and forecast were clearly wrong, rather way off the mark. The site or the area in question or upstream and downstream levels did not match with what the CWC site had mentioned. The water level at the site mentioned on CWC site the previous and following day also did not match this observation and forecast. Needless to add that there was no floods in Brahmaputra in spite of such forecast by India’s highest technical body on water! SANDRP had already written to CWC regarding this on June 12, 2013, but CWC has not replied to our mail.

Assam faces one of the severest brunt of floods every year in the country and the flood season in the state has just set in. The performance of CWC flood forecasting during the recent Uttarakhand floods was also very poor (please see https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/central-water-commissions-flood-forecasting-pathetic-performance-in-uttarkhand-disaster/). In such a situation, it is expected that CWC’s flood forecasting for the floods this season will be done more cautiously and actively and right information will be disseminated in timely manner so that the public expenses on CWC are justifiable. CWC needs to be responsive to such messages and also accountable for the wrong forecasts. The focus of CWC should be on identifying and making correct forecasts for actual flood hit areas.

Parag Jyoti Saikia

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (www.sandrp.in)

Email: meandering1800@gmail.com

Cumulative Impact Assessment · Hydropower

PM kick starts 850 MW Ratle Project in J&K without full Impact Assessment: Invitation to another disaster in Chenab basin?

On the 25th June 2013, when unprecedented floods were ravaging Uttarakhand,  Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone of 850 MW Ratle Hydroelectric Project, being developed by a private company GVK, on the Chenab River in Jammu and Kashmir. The PM hailed this project as a harbinger of prosperity to J and K and did not forget to state that the project has acquired all the requisite clearances.(http://inbministry.blogspot.in/2013/06/pms-address-at-laying-of-foundation.html). While he mentioned the upcoming elections, he did not mention a single word about the Uttarakhand tragedy.

PM laying the foundation stone of Ratle Project Courtesy: Indian Express
PM laying the foundation stone of Ratle Project Courtesy: Indian Express

He forgot to mention that while there are over 60 projects under planning, construction and commissioning in Chenab Basin of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, no Cumulative Impact Assessment that has been carried out to study the cumulative impacts of these bumper to bumper projects on the ecology, geology, disaster impacts, climate change impacts and communities of the Chenab. No carrying capacity study has been done in the basin to ascertain if the area can take all these projects in a sustainable and safe way. CHENAB BASIN LIKELY TO HAVE THE HIGHEST CONCENTRATION OF HYDROPOWER PROJECTS AMONG ALL BASINS IN INDIA.

In addition, the  MoEF website till date (1st July 2013, after PM laid the foundation stone of Ratle Project) does not show the Form I, Form I A or the Environmental Impact Assessment Report of Ratle Project on its website, clearly violating Central Information Commission (CIC) orders. This issue has been pointed out by civil society including SANDRP multiple times and it is shocking that MoEF is not following CIC orders even for a project which is high profile enough for the PM to lay its foundation stone.

The PM, incidentally laid foundation stone for the 3000 MW Dibang project in Arunachal Pradesh on January 31, 2008, the project still has not got even statutory clearances over five years later. Let us see if Ratle makes better progress than that.

No Lessons from Uttarakhand?

Glaciers in Chenab Basin: According to IMD, Glaciers in Chenab basin have been retreating rapidly, some at the rate of 54 mts/year. 49% of the average flow component in Chenab is snow melt.(http://www.imd.gov.in/ims/pdf/plenary/RDS.pdf). ICIMOD has said that several glacial lakes in Chenab are potentially dangerous, in the risk of GLOFs (http://geoportal.icimod.org/Publication/Files/cf894b1a-d2df-46ca-9e7a-e0577d24ea4f.pdf).

Considering these issues and also the devastation in the wake of Uttarakhand Floods, one would expect that the upcoming hydro projects in the fragile Himalayas will have a thorough assessment of their risks due to climate change, flash floods, landslides. However, the TOR of 850 MW Ratle Project given by MoEF does even mention the term Climate change! Going for the project without such an assessment may be invitation for a disaster. 

RetreatingglaciersChenab

These and other such issues have been raised by civil society organizations including SANDRP when MoEF was busy clearing hydropower projects on the Chenab Basin.

SANDRPs submissions to the EAC on Ratle: SANDRP had raised many issues after Ratle was  granted Environmental Clearance by the Expert Appraisal Committee of the MoEF in its 59th meeting in July 2012.

Submission sent by SANDRP before the 60th EAC meeting in September 2012:

RATLE HEP: the EAC has recommended EC to this 850 MW project, the largest such projects so far in J&K and in Chenab basin. However, Chenab basin is home to a very large number of large hydropower projects, including Salal, Baglihar-1, Dul Hasti (all operating) and also Baglihar 2 (under construction), Sawalkote, Bursar (plannned) among many others. However, there has been no cumulative impact assessment including basin wide and carrying capacity aspects. Taking up further projects without such a study is not prudent.

More importantly, in the context of this project, there seems to be some major discrepancies and EAC do not seem to have applied its mind. For example, the minutes say (page 14) that FRL of Ratle is 1029 m and TWL of upstream Dulhasti is at 1031.5, just 2.5 m above the FRL of Ratle. And yet the minutes claim that this project is 14 km downstream of Dul Hasti power house! How is this possible that the elevation of the TWL of the upstream project is just 2.5 m above and yet the distance is 14 km? This seems unlikely considering the topography of the region. The minutes do not say what is the length of the river where the tail race water of upsteram project enters the river and the tip of the FRL of downstream project.

VIOLATION OF CIC ORDERS  The EIA and other related documents of the Ratle (or any other projects discussed in EAC) are not available on the MEF website, as required under the CIC orders, and till the implementation of the CIC order is achieved, consideration of projects will be violating the basic transparency norms.

We find that for Ratle, the minutes says that min env flow of 33.43 cumecs will be achieved through the operation of a 30 MW unit, it is not clear what norms will be followed for other seasons, including monsoon. The EAC do not seem to have applied its mind on this.

In view of all these reasons, we request the EAC to review its decision regarding the Ratle project.

Himanshu Thakkar

SANDRP”

We did not receive any response on this from the EAC members or other officers of MoEF. The EAC did not even acknowledge the letter, nor did they bother to explain the serious discrepancies pointed out in the letter. 

Bumper to Bumper Dams in Chenab: As Chenab descends from Himachal and enters Jammu and Kashmir, it is dammed by several large hydro  projects either operational, under construction or planned. Table below lists hydropower projects close to 9,000 MW in the Chenab basin in Jammu and Kashmir. This is not the full list. According to the Central Electricity Authority, projects totaling 4,200 MW are planned in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan, while additional projects for 2,075 MW have been identified.

Partial list of large hydropower projects on the Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir:

Sr No Project Capacity (MW) River
1 Kirthai I 250 Chenab
2 Kirthai II 990 Chenab
3 Bursar 1,200/1,500 Marusudar
4 Pakal Dul 1,000 Marusudar
5 Dul Hasti (operating) 390 Chenab
6 Ratle (GVK) 850 Chenab
7 Baglihar I (operating) 450 Chenab
8 Baglihar II 450 Chenab
9 Sawalkote 1,200 Chenab
10 Salal (operating) 690 Chenab
11 Chainani I, II, III 33 Tributary
12 Kiru 600 Chenab
13 Kwar 520 Chenab
Total 8,623/8,923 MW

 

Some projects are under consideration for forest and environmental clearance, like the 1,200 MW Bursar project in Kishtwar district which requires 1,665 hectares of land, including 1,077 hectares of forest. It will affect more than 500 families in over 14 villages (option 2 requires 4,593 hectares of land!). And the 1,200 MW Sawalkote dam which will require 1,099 hectares of land, including 600 hectares of forest. Some of these dams will submerge parts of the Kishtwar High Altitude National Park. Here again, like it is being done in Chenab Basin in Himachal Pradesh, projects are being planned bumper-to-bumper; no environmental mitigation measures like fish passes or ladders are included and the social impacts appear huge, adding to the overall cumulative impact.

Despite all of this, no cumulative impact assessment study is being recommended or undertaken for the Chenab basin in Jammu and Kashmir.

Overdeveloped Chenab Basin in Himachal Pradesh: As many as 49 Hydroelectricity projects are planned or under construction in Chenab in Himachal Pradesh (HP). According to CM of HP Premkumar Dhumal, more than 28 of these projects are at an advanced stage of  obtaining clearances (http://thehimachalnews.com/himachal-asks-for-environment-waivers-on-chenab-river-projects/ ). HP government is actually suggesting that the condition of cumulative impact assessments for projects on the Chenab put forward by the MoEF should be lifted as “it is unilateral and contrary to the state’s interests”! It would appear as though the chief minister believed that the interests of the state lay only in the execution of hydropower projects, nothing else. Services obtained from a river such as water availability, groundwater recharge, fishing, irrigation through smaller streams, climate regulation, tourism and protection of lands, forests, mountains and biodiversity are not in the interests of the state and are worthless!

Partial list of large hydro projects planned/under implementation in the Chenab basin, Himachal Pradesh:

Sr No HEP Cap in MW District Tributary Length of HRT Distance from U/s project Distance from D/s project Developer
1 Gyspa 300 Lahaul and Spiti Bhaga 14.96 km Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited
2 Chattru 120 Lahaul and Spiti Chandra 10.48 Not applicable DCM Sriram
3 Shangling 44 Lahaul and Spiti Chandra Reliance Power
4 Miyar 120 Lahaul and Spiti Chandrabhaga Moser Baer
5 Tandi 104 Lahaul and Spiti 7.4 ABG Shipyard
6 Rashil 130 ABG Shipyard
7 Seli 400 Lahaul and Spiti Zero Moser Baer
8 Reoli Dugli 420 Lahaul and Spiti 11 km Zero Moser Baer
9 Teling 94 Reliance Power
10 Bardang 126 Lahaul and Spiti ABG Shipyard
11 Patam 60 Lahaul and Spiti 9.75 +
12 Tinget 81
13 Purthi 300 Lahaul and Spiti Reliance Power
14 Sach Khas 260 Chamba Chenab 3.5 km 9 km
15 Dugar 380 Chamba Chenab 8.5 km 9 km 3 km Tata Power S N Group, Norway
16 Gondhala 144 Lahaul and Spiti Chenab
17 Khoksar 90 Lahaul and Spiti Chenab
Total 3,173
Protests against Hydel Projects on Chenab in Himachal Courtesy: Himdhara
Protests against Hydel Projects on Chenab in Himachal Courtesy: Himdhara

Cumulative impact Assessment of Chenab Basin Projects in Himachal: The MoEF sanctioned TORs for cumulative impact assessments of the Chenab in February 2012. Surprisingly, this critical task has been entrusted to the Directorate of Energy, Government of Himachal Pradesh. Can there be any agency with greater conflict of interest than the Directorate of Energy for this study? Can we expect this department to conduct the study in an unbiased manner? Even as the directorate put out a request for proposals for contractors to carry out the study, it did not mention that the consultant had to be an independent agency with a credible track record, as specifically instructed by the EAC.

The MoEF seems to have meekly accepted the Himachal Pradesh chief minister’s demand for delinking environmental clearances from cumulative impact assessment studies, without any questions asked. Delinking EC from Cumulative impact Assessment defeats the entire purpose of having a CIA done. J and K Government is not even considering a Cumulative Impact Assessment as the MoEF has not asked for it so far.

It is time India took the issue of the impacts of cascading mega projects seriously. These rivers are not merely power-producing channels, they have been providing and continue to provide services to millions of local communities and our ecology. Governments and their agencies cannot simply push ahead with their big dam agenda at the cost of the environment and communities, in the absence of unbiased scientific studies and democratic decision making process. Doing that would be invitation to disaster.

(For a detailed report on projects in Chenab Basin: http://infochangeindia.org/environment/analysis/bumper-to-bumper-dams.html)

Moreover, we need a cumulative impact assessment for the whole Chenab basin, including Himachal Pradesh and J&K, which is not even being considered by anyone, including the Prime Minister, MoEF, or state governments.

Poor track record of GVK group Here it should be added that  Ratle project is being developed by GVK group, who has poor track record in development of hydropower projects. The only hydropower project of the group that has gone to advanced stage is the 330 MW Srinagar hydropower project on Alaknanda river in Uttarakhand and that project has been mired in serious controversies. A case has been going on in the Supreme Court, Union Ministry of Environment and forests has given stay work order, the project has no environmental impact assessment, and now during the current flood, the project is found to be responsible for the destruction of the downstream Srinagar town, and project itself has suffered extensive damage. People of J&K need to be aware of this track record so that they know what to expect from them. It is indeed shocking that the Prime Minister chose to lay foundation stone for this GVK project in the face of the role that the project of this company has played in Uttarakhand.

Neglect by PM’s Advisory Council on Climate Change It may be added here that Prime Minister is the head of the India’s climate change related work along with his advisory council on climate change. One of the highlights of the Uttarakhand disaster is that the PM and his advisory council have neglected the issues related to climate change in Uttarakhand. Now they are again repeating that blunder in J&K.

It is indeed unfortunate to see that the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of the huge Ratle Project even as all the above mentioned issues are unresolved and are being swept under the carpet. What makes it more poignant is that he should do it when floods are still ravaging Uttarakhand and when many experts and organisations are linking these floods with the cumulative impacts of damming, blasting, tunneling, mining, muck dumping, deforestation, no attention to climate change impacts, disaster impacts , environmental compliance and sheer playing with the rivers associated with hydel projects in Uttarakhand.

This act has the potential of sending a very wrong signal to communities of Himalayas: That Indian Government will go ahead with its hydel development plan at any cost:  even without assessing impacts of these projects on communities and ecology, without fulfilling norms of transparent governance. At a time when the nation is trying to cope with the Uttarakhand disaster, this is indeed a very wrong signal to send.

Parineeta Dandekar (parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com)

For Map of Chenab basin with hydropower projects, see: https://sandrp.in/basin_maps/Hydro_%20Electric_Projects_in_Chenab_River_Basin.pdf

For blog on performance of hydropower projects in Chenab basin, see: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/hydropower-generation-performance-in-chenab-river-basin/

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We have recently sent a letter to the PM, Ms. Snia Gandahi, Planning COmmission Members, etc.

July 4, 2013

 

To,

 
1. The Prime Minister of India,
Government of India, 
New Delhi
 
2. Union Minister of State of Environment and Forests (IC),
Paryavaran Bhawan,
New Delhi
 
3. Mihir Shah,
Member (Water), 
Planning Commission, Government of India, 
and member NAC,
New Delhi
 
4. Chairperson,
National Advisory Council,
New Delhi
 
Respected Sirs and Madams,
The Prime Minister of India and UPA Chair-person graced the occasion of laying the foundation stone for the 850 MW Ratle Hydropower project in Jammu and Kashmir on June 25, 2013. We were very happy to see that Mrs Sonia Gandhi raised the issues of environmental impacts and sustainability on this occasion. 
 
In this context we would like to bring to your attention that a very large number of hydropower projects are at various stages of planning, clearance, construction and operation in the Chenab basin. These include at least 13 hydropower projects of J&K alone, with total capacity of over 8600 MW. A very large number of smaller hydropower projects (each of them also have adverse impacts on local environment and communities) are additional. In addition, in the upstream Chenab basin in Himachal Pradesh, at least 17 large hydropower projects of total capacity of 3200 MW are in advance stage, whereas the state has plans for 49 projects in Chenab basin. Here again there are other smaller projects. It means even now there are over 30 large hydropower projects (for a full list of such projects, see: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/pm-kick-starts-850-mw-ratle-project-in-jk-without-full-impact-assessment-invitation-to-another-disaster-in-chenab-basin/) with total capacity 11 800 MW (this is not the full list or total capacity) and much larger number of smaller hydropower projects are planned to come up in this basin. It seems Chenab basin is going to be home to one of the largest number of hydropower projects in the country if all these projects are to come up.
 
However, there is no cumulative impact assessment of all these projects and other developmental interventions that are going on in the basin. Nor is there any carrying capacity study. As you know credibility of our environmental and social impact assessments is also very poor. Such indiscriminate planning and construction of so many projects without such basic assessments in place is clearly an invitation to disaster. This is particularly so in the context of Climate Change, which is having one of the greatest impacts in the Himalayan Region. Scientists have been warning us that Chenab basin has seen a very high rate of melting of glaciers and threat of Glacier Lake Outburst floods. 
 
The absolute minimum we can do is to do the cumulative impact assessment and carrying capacity by a credible agency (not by Directorate of Energy, Govt of Himachal Pradesh, since this agency is more interested in pushing more and more hydro projects, or such other agencies involving conflict of Interest) and stopping clearance and work on all new projects (including Ratle) till such an assessment is available. It is not prudent to delink the new projects from such an assessment as the MoEF is currently doing. This is the most important lesson we can learn from the Uttarakhand disaster and the lessons from that disaster are relevant for all Himalayan areas including the entire Chenab basin. The MoEF should also not be considering cumulative impact assessment and carrying capacity study in Himachal Pradesh and J&K separately, but consider for Chenab basin as a whole. 
 
Here we would also like to highlight that the GVK Hydro, which is the developer of Ratle project, has been held guilty of a lot of serious problems in implementation of the 330 MW Srinagar hydropower project in Uttarakhand (the only large hydro that this company has ever developed. Over a hundred houses have been damaged in Srinagar town, many of them submerged in over 10 ft of muck illegally dumped by the project in the river and sudden release of water in early hours of June 17 by the project. In fact your government should investigate such project induced damages in Uttarakhand disaster and fix responsibility on those guilty and make them pay for such damages. Your gracing the foundation stone laying ceremonies for projects of such companies do not send right signal.
 
We request you to kindly take the steps suggested above on urgent basis. We will look forward to your early response on this.
 
Yours Sincerely,
 
Himanshu Thakkar