(Screengrab of India Today North East video report on landslide at Lower Subansiri HEP site on April 03, 2023)
The site of Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power (HEP) has witnessed another massive landslide on April 3, 2022. The 2000 MW project is being developed by NHPC Ltd at Gerukamukh bordering Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
As per North East India 24report, the landslide triggered by rainfall has caused damage in the main part of the dam and the workers had to be evacuated to a safe place. No human casualty has been reported from the incident.
(Feature Image: Screen grab of Sikkim Spectators field visit video report interviewing landslide affected local people)
NHPC’s Teesta V HEP dam site has again witnessed a disastrous landslide. The incident occurred between 02:00 am and 03:00 am on Sunday, March 26, 2023 in Sokpay village area under Dikchu Zang block of Gangtok district. The same morning, Gyatso Lepcha of Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT), Sikkim alerted SANDRP about the landslide.
The 520 MW Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower project of NTPC (formerly National Thermal Power Corporation Limited) has remained controversial at least since 2009 as it is again now in January 2023. This time it is in the dock over the sinking of Joshimath town in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
In this annual review, SANDRP compiles the hydro power related accidents, disasters and damages in North West and North East Himalayan states during 2022. It also covers relevant reports revealing gradual decline in power generation by hydro power projects amid growing concerns over physical and financial viabilities of new projects. There are also reports highlighting the looming climatic and geological threats over these projects. It is good to see that taking lessons from Chamoli disaster in Feb. 2021, NDMA has officially asked central govt not to rely on hydro power.
(Feature Image: Massive landslide at Lower Subansiri hydro project dam site. Source North East Now 28 Oct. 2022)
Over the course of past two years, series of disasters and accidents have taken place at construction site of the controversial 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Power Project resulting in damages to project structure and death of construction workers thus raising questions over its safety and sustainability. Since 2005-06, the largest ever under-construction hydropower project is being developed by NHPLC Ltd (formerly known as the National Hydro Power Corporation Limited), a central government company in geologically fragile, seismically vulnerable and biodiversity rich area in the face of pending judicial case[i] and very strong opposition from people across the Assam.
The latest disaster in form of a massive landslide affected the project site on October 12, 2022 further delaying the repair works which were being carried to recover damages caused by the flash floods, landslips at dam site in last week of September 2022.
(Feature Image:Kishtwar: Rescue operation underway after a landslide at Ratle Power Project site in Kishtwar district, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. At least one person was killed and five are feared trapped, according to officials. Photo: PTI/ TIE)
The landslide incident at Ratle HEP in Chenab basin in Jammu & Kashmir in Oct 2022 has again revealed how hydro projects in geologically vulnerable areas have been increasing disaster potential of the already disaster vulnerable areas, killing and injuring the workers and people. The exact reason for the mishap at project site are still unknown. As usual neither NHPC nor JKSPDC have made public information concerning reasons for the tragedy.
Refusing to learn any lessons from such disasters, the administration has set-up routine internal probe under inspector level official. This only shows sheer lack of intention to make the developers accountable and continue to push financially unviable and environmental unsustainable hydro projects at the cost of human lives and tax payers’ money.
(Feature Image:- कुल्लू की मणिकर्ण घाटी के चोज गांव में बादल फटा है. मलाणा डेम साइट के पास से भागता युवक. Source: News 18 Himachal Pradesh)
Hydropower projects are force multipliers when cloud burst happens close to them. In 2021 at least 11 HEPs (4 each in Uttarakhand & Himachal, 2 in J&K and 1 in Ladakh) projects had faced cloud burst induced deluge and damages in lesser or greater degree.
In the latest such incident, the 100 MW Malana II Hydro Electric Project (HEP) in Parbati Valley in Himachal Pradesh has been affected by flash floods following cloud burst in Malana village area in early hours of July 6, 2022. The operational project is located on Malana stream, a tributary of Parbati river in Kullu district. This incident seemingly coincided with another devastating cloud burst near Choj village in Parvati valley located about 15 km south west from Malana.
Two workers of 450 MW Shongtong hydropower Project[i] were killed when the trolley they were using overturned inside the tunn[ii]el of the under-construction project near Ralli in Kalpa Tehsil of Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. The police have registered a case in connection with the incident.
(Feature image: Rescue operation at Tidong HEP tunnel. Image source: Divya Himachal)
Early morning around 5.45 am on Saturday, May 7, 2022, five labourers were stuck while coming out from the 180 m deep tunnel of the under construction 100 MW Tidong Hydropower project[i] in Murang Tehsil of Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh when debris fell into the tunnel (according to one report) and the lift in which the 5 labourers were coming out over turned[ii]. The trolley with 5 workers inside pressure shaft of adit 2 tunnel slipped off its track. The workers were coming out as their shift had ended.
March 14 marks 25th anniversary of International Day of Actions for Rivers, a unique campaign dedicated to indigenous communities striving to protect and preserve their rivers from a whole range of destructive anthropogenic activities. The Hydro Electric Projects (HEPs) are among key threats affecting rivers eco-system and riverine communities greatly, in multiple ways.
The resistance against destructive, unviable HEPs growing stronger in India. Over the past one year there has been several protests against hydro projects across the country particularly in Himalayan states. On the occasion of International Day of Actions for rivers celebrating people’s resistance, SANDRP has compiled top ten stories of such community led opposition during the year, along with relevant additional stories. .