Bhagirath Prayas Samman · Chenab · Dams · Himachal Pradesh · Hydropower · Sutlej

Bhagirath Prayas Samman: Himdhara Collective: Relentless Questioning and Doing

When I talk with Manshi, a friend and co-traveler from Himdhara Collective about Bhagirathh Prayas Samman that the collective received during the India Rivers Week 2016, she is modest, even slightly hesitant. She simply says, “We love the mountains, we want to protect them and help mountain communities fight the unequal battle against unplanned hydropower. That is one motivation of our work. But the other is recognition of the fact that we are privileged… privileged to be able to speak English, to work on a computer, to understand the bureaucratic procedures that alienate a tribal or forest dweller from her land. That understanding also drives us.”

Citation of Bhagirath Prayas Samman given to Himdhara Collective states: Himdhara’s strength is its engagement with communities, movements and organisations. It has created an effective discourse around issues of resource distribution and their ownership and the resultant impacts on ecological spaces of mountain communities, especially vulnerable groups like indigenous people, dalits and women. It is an honor to recognize and celebrate Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective’s extraordinary Bhagirath efforts in maintaining the integrity of rivers in Himachal Pradesh.”

In their own words, “Himdhara is an autnomous and informal non registered environment research and action collective, extending solidarity and support, in research and action, to people and organisations asserting their rights over their natural resources and agitating against corporatisation of these resources for destructive development in the state.”

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Face of Hydropower in Kinnaur Photo: Himdhara

A collective of young, passionate and questioning minds, Himdhara has been working with communities in far flung areas of Himachal Pradesh include Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur in their fight against the onslaught of ill-planned and bumper to bumper hydropower projects in Himachal, amongst other issues. Continue reading “Bhagirath Prayas Samman: Himdhara Collective: Relentless Questioning and Doing”

Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Dams · Disasters · Himachal Pradesh · Himalayas

Kinnaur in crisis; Sheer Negligence in hydro projects claiming lives. Who is accountable?

Above: Entirely destabilised house next to 100 MW Sorang HEP transmission lines Photo: Sumit Mahar

Immediate Press Statement from Himdhara 02/12/15

In the last two weeks a half a dozen lives have been lost in the Kinnaur region alone in three separate incidents that have one thing in common – accidents at hydropower project sites. The first event took place in Burang village on the 18th of November 2015 where a penstock pipe burst of the 100 MW Sorang Hydro-electric project led to the death of three people. On 29th November, two labourers died in blasting operations in the 450 MW Shongthong Karchham project, some others were seriously injured. And on the same day in the Bhabha Valley, a young teacher lost her life in a landslide that occurred in the area. Continue reading “Kinnaur in crisis; Sheer Negligence in hydro projects claiming lives. Who is accountable?”

Dams · Himachal Pradesh

Sorang Hydropower disaster: Will we learn any lessons?

Google Earth Image of the Area 

A burst in penstock pipe of 100 MW Sorang hydro power project (HEP) in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh have played havoc with the lives and livelihoods of people of Burang and surrounding villages. On surface it may look like an accident. But deeper look raises doubts about many systemic loopholes that allowed the siutation that led to the disaster. Let us see the shortcomings and negligence exercised by project proponent and state government which finally resulted in the fatal accident. We urge the Himachal Pradesh Govt., other governments where such projects are coming up and Central Electricity Authority,  to constitute a monitoring cell to inspect quality of construction of ongoing HEPs and form adequate safety standards and enusre their strict implementation to prevent such mishaps from becoming a norm.    Continue reading “Sorang Hydropower disaster: Will we learn any lessons?”

Himachal Pradesh · Himalayas · Hydropower

Photo Essay on the impacts of blasting and tunneling for hydropower projects in Kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh – 2

Guest Blog by: Sumit Mahar (sumitmahar.12@gmail.com), Him Dhara Environment Research and Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh [1]

Tunneling for hydropower project using the blasting technique can have massive impacts. It has a series of direct and indirect impacts which have already been documented. Among the most serious impacts is drying up of the natural drinking water springs and the reduction in sub-soil moisture. This directly impacts the drinking water availability for the local villagers as well as agriculture and horticultural productivity, which is critically dependent upon the presence of sub-soil moisture. Blasting for tunnels and other underground components of hydroelectricity projects creates vibrations that have resulted in cracks in houses situated near these components.

Importance of impacts of tunneling and blasting becomes very important since all run of the river (ROR) projects involve tunneling and blasting. Proponents claim that ROR hydropower projects are environment friendly, but most people do not know that the tunneling and blasting adds an additional dimension to the impacts due to ROR hydropower projects and these can be very serious. Most environmental and social impact assessments or cumulative impact assessments do not even assess these impacts. Many times the proponent get away claiming that the impacts are not due to the projects, when in reality all evidence shows that these are very much caused by the tunneling and blasting being done as part of the construction of these projects.

This photo essay documents the impacts of tunneling and blasting for hydropower projects mainly in Kinnaur (part 1 of photo essay does the same for projects in Chamba district) of Himachal Pradesh. In Kinnaur the photo essay includes such impacts of 1000 MW Karcham Wangtoo and 1500 MW Nathpa Jakhri hydropower projects.[2] It is noteworthy that impacts are not only limited to large hydropower projects, but also to what is defined as small hydropower projects (projects below 25 MW installed capacity). This should also help puncture the misconceived notion that small hydropower projects are environmental benign and they do not need environmental and social impact assessment, public consultations, appraisal, monitoring or compliance.

These photo essays are indicative of the kind of impacts tunneling and blasting can have in the process of building hydropower projects in the Himalayas. What they indicate is relevant not only for Himachal Pradesh, but entire Himalayas and all projects that involve such tunneling and blasting. We hope these photo essays open the eyes of state governments, Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, Union Ministry of Power, Union Ministry of Water Resources, Central Electricity Authority, state environment departments, hydropower developers, EIA consultants, chairman and members of Expert  Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects, media, judiciary, civil society and all others concerned.

 Karcham Wangtoo Hydro Power Project, Kinnaur

Project Jaypee Karcham Wangtoo HEP
Capacity (MW) 1000
Basin Satluj
District Kinnaur
Villages Choling, Yulla, Urni, Runnag, Meeru, Chugaun
Pictures taken on 25 May to 2 June 2014
Murim-I, is a local stream that dried up due to the 17 km long 1000MW Karcham Wangtoo project’s tunnel in Kinnaur district. The stream is surrounded by grazing lands
Murim-I, is a local stream that dried up due to the 17 km long 1000MW Karcham Wangtoo project’s tunnel in Kinnaur district. The stream is surrounded by grazing lands
Murim-II next to Murim I shared a common source which led to drying up of both streams
Murim-II next to Murim I shared a common source which led to drying up of both streams
Nang Choling water source or chashma near the highway. The water was used for drinking not just by the people in Choling but also by passers by. This source has totally dried up now due to the Karcham Wangtoo tunnel construction
Nang Choling water source or chashma near the highway. The water was used for drinking not just by the people in Choling but also by passers by. This source has totally dried up now due to the Karcham Wangtoo tunnel construction
Peokeh-I is a water source in the Yulla village. The discharge of this source has reduced by 50% since the construction of the tunnel for Karcham Wangtoo HEP
Peokeh-I is a water source in the Yulla village. The discharge of this source has reduced by 50% since the construction of the tunnel for Karcham Wangtoo HEP
Yet another source of water - Peokeh-II, Yulla village whose discharge has reduced by 30 to 40%
Yet another source of water – Peokeh-II, Yulla village whose discharge has reduced by 30 to 40%
Jyoti Prakash’s house in Yulla village suffered from cracks because of the tunnel construction of Karcham Wangtoo HEP
Jyoti Prakash’s house in Yulla village suffered from cracks because of the tunnel construction of Karcham Wangtoo HEP
Jagat Singh’s fields had this water source and used this for drinking and irrigation. Due to the reduction in the discharge after tunnel construction there is just enough water to use for drinking
Jagat Singh’s fields had this water source and used this for drinking and irrigation. Due to the reduction in the discharge after tunnel construction there is just enough water to use for drinking
Kakhiyo water source was used for drinking by 10 families in Yulla and the source is now totally dry
Kakhiyo water source was used for drinking by 10 families in Yulla and the source is now totally dry
Lang Chuldhing water source in Yulla the discharge has reduced due to the tunnel. 4 -5 families in the vicitnity depend on this source
Lang Chuldhing water source in Yulla the discharge has reduced due to the tunnel. 4 -5 families in the vicitnity depend on this source
Ram Devi’s gharat in Yulla has been rendered useless along with another 4 above her’s. All due to the drying up of a water source – Yang baro
Ram Devi’s gharat in Yulla has been rendered useless along with another 4 above her’s. All due to the drying up of a water source – Yang baro
Yang Baro water source was feeding the watermills as well as irrigation channels. Now there is hardly any water for these
Yang Baro water source was feeding the watermills as well as irrigation channels. Now there is hardly any water for these
Ramanand Negi showed this water source in Urni village which emerged suddenly in 2005. This has come out in a location where there is a landslide getting active
Ramanand Negi showed this water source in Urni village which emerged suddenly in 2005. This has come out in a location where there is a landslide getting active
This is the Urni steep slope where the landslide is active
This is the Urni steep slope where the landslide is active
Ramanand’s House in Urni village which has developed cracks and crevices due to the blasting and construction of tunnel for Karcham Wangtoo Project
Ramanand’s House in Urni village which has developed cracks and crevices due to the blasting and construction of tunnel for Karcham Wangtoo Project
Runnag Chashma is used by the Runnag village for washing and drinking. The water discharge has reduced substantially
Runnag Chashma is used by the Runnag village for washing and drinking. The water discharge has reduced substantially
Munni Lal’s apple orchard which was impacted by a landslide last year when the June 2013 monsoon rains occurred
Munni Lal’s apple orchard which was impacted by a landslide last year when the June 2013 monsoon rains occurred
Landslide just above the tunnel of Karcham Wangtoo project at Rangle. This was also activated lst year during the monsoons
Landslide just above the tunnel of Karcham Wangtoo project at Rangle. This was also activated lst year during the monsoons
Ryabi Khaldam (Disturbed Source), the water source has relocated naturally after the construction of the tunnel began
Ryabi Khaldam (Disturbed Source), the water source has relocated naturally after the construction of the tunnel began
Land slide at Meeru village activated last year and the main path of the village disturbed
Land slide at Meeru village activated last year and the main path of the village disturbed
Buthkas, IPH Source fully dried now as a result of tunnel. Almost the entire Meeru panchayat was dependent on this water for drinking
Buthkas, IPH Source fully dried now as a result of tunnel. Almost the entire Meeru panchayat was dependent on this water for drinking
Jagdish Chand Negi’s house in Chugaun was impacted because of the construction of Karcham Wangtoo Tunnel
Jagdish Chand Negi’s house in Chugaun was impacted because of the construction of Karcham Wangtoo Tunnel
Cow shed developed cracks in Chugaun affected by Karcham Wangtoo Project’s tunnel construction
Cow shed developed cracks in Chugaun affected by Karcham Wangtoo Project’s tunnel construction

Nathpa Jhakari Hydro Power Project

Project Nathpa Jhakari HEP
Capacity (MW) 1500
Basin Satluj
District Kinnaur
Villages Nigulseri & Jhakari
Pictures taken on 29/05/2014 & 03/06/2014
On 25th May 2014 this landslide occurred in Nigulseri village. Locals claim that the tunnel of 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Project had already disturbed the area which was further disturbed because of the transmission tower construction for Baspa II and Karchham Wangtoo HEPs
On 25th May 2014 this landslide occurred in Nigulseri village. Locals claim that the tunnel of 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Project had already disturbed the area which was further disturbed because of the transmission tower construction for Baspa II and Karchham Wangtoo HEPs
Geeta Ram’s house affected by the landslide at Nigulseri
Geeta Ram’s house affected by the landslide at Nigulseri
Shamsher Singh’s house cracks at Nigulseri in May 2014. A total of 13 houses have suffered such damages
Shamsher Singh’s house cracks at Nigulseri in May 2014. A total of 13 houses have suffered such damages
This landslide has occurred near powerhouse of the Nathpa Jhakri project in Jhakri
This landslide has occurred near powerhouse of the Nathpa Jhakri project in Jhakri

For Part 1 of the photo essay related to tunneling impacts of hydropower projects in Chamba district, see: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/photo-essay-on-the-impacts-of-blasting-and-tunneling-for-hydropower-projects-in-chamba-district-in-himachal-pradesh-1/

END NOTES:

[1] The photo blog also appears here: http://www.himdhara.org/2014/08/06/photo-essay-when-mountains-are-hollowed/

[2] For a detailed article on this issue, Seeping through the cracks, see: http://www.epw.in/web-exclusives/seeping-through-cracks.html

Environment Impact Assessment · Expert Appraisal Committee · Himachal Pradesh · Hydropower

Photo Essay on the impacts of blasting and tunneling for hydropower projects in Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh – 1

Guest Blog by: Sumit Mahar (sumitmahar.12@gmail.com), Him Dhara Environment Research and Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh [1]

Tunneling for hydropower project using the blasting technique can have massive impacts. It has a series of direct and indirect impacts which have already been documented. Among the most serious impacts is drying up of the natural drinking water springs and the reduction in sub-soil moisture. This directly impacts the drinking water availability for the local villagers as well as agriculture and horticultural productivity, which is critically dependent upon the presence of sub-soil moisture. Blasting for tunnels and other underground components of hydroelectricity projects creates vibrations that have resulted in cracks in houses situated near these components.

Importance of impacts of tunneling and blasting becomes very important since all run of the river (ROR) projects involve tunneling and blasting. Proponents claim that ROR hydropower projects are environment friendly, but most people do not know that the tunneling and blasting adds an additional dimension to the impacts due to ROR hydropower projects and these can be very serious. Most environmental and social impact assessments or cumulative impact assessments do not even assess these impacts. Many times the proponent get away claiming that the impacts are not due to the projects, when in reality all evidence shows that these are very much caused by the tunneling and blasting being done as part of the construction of these projects.

This photo essay documents the impacts of tunneling and blasting for hydropower projects mainly in Chamba (part II of photo essay does the same for projects in Kinnaur district) of Himachal Pradesh. In Chamba, the photo essay includes such impacts of Chamera III, Chanju, Ginni, A.T. hydropower projects.[2] It is noteworthy that impacts are not only limited to large hydropower projects, but also to what is defined as small hydropower projects (projects below 25 MW installed capacity). This should also help puncture the misconceived notion that small hydropower projects are environmental benign and they do not need environmental and social impact assessment, public consultations, appraisal, monitoring or compliance.

These photo essays are indicative of the kind of impacts tunneling and blasting can have in the process of building hydropower projects in the Himalayas. What they indicate is relevant not only for Himachal Pradesh, but entire Himalayas and all projects that involve such tunneling and blasting. We hope these photo essays open the eyes of state governments, Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, Union Ministry of Power, Union Ministry of Water Resources, Central Electricity Authority, state environment departments, hydropower developers, EIA consultants, chairman and members of Expert  Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects, media, judiciary, civil society and all others concerned.

Chamera III Hydro Electric Project, Chamba

Project Chamera III
Capacity (MW) 231
Basin Ravi
District Chamba
Village Mokhr
Pictures taken on 29/04/2014
In April 2012 there was a massive leakage in the 16km HRT of the 231 MW, Chamera III project just above the Mokhar village in Chamba district leading to severe threat to the village downhill so much so that the 40 families residing there had to be evacuated. This picture is of the Adit 6 of the tunnel. The leakage occurred during testing of the generating units.
In April 2012 there was a massive leakage in the 16km HRT of the 231 MW, Chamera III project just above the Mokhar village in Chamba district leading to severe threat to the village downhill so much so that the 40 families residing there had to be evacuated. This picture is of the Adit 6 of the tunnel. The leakage occurred during testing of the generating units.
2.Leakages in the surge shaft of the 231 MW Chamera III tunnel just above the Mokhar village in Chamba
Leakages in the surge shaft of the 231 MW Chamera III tunnel just above the Mokhar village in Chamba
Vidya Devi’s house in Mokhar  was completely damaged by the landslide caused due to the seepage from the surge shaft in April 2012
Vidya Devi’s house in Mokhar was completely damaged by the landslide caused due to the seepage from the surge shaft in April 2012
Shri Jagdish Sharma standing in front of the debris of his leftover house after the leakage tragedy
Shri Jagdish Sharma standing in front of the debris of his leftover house after the leakage tragedy
The pastures of the village buried under the landslide caused by the seepages in Mokhar village
The pastures of the village buried under the landslide caused by the seepages in Mokhar village
Damages caused by the leakage in the HRT to houses in Mokhar village
Damages caused by the leakage in the HRT to houses in Mokhar village
Damages caused by the leakage in the HRT to houses in Mokhar village
Damages caused by the leakage in the HRT to houses in Mokhar village
Damages caused by the leakage in the HRT to houses in Mokhar village
Damages caused by the leakage in the HRT to houses in Mokhar village
Damages caused by the leakage in the HRT to houses in Mokhar village
Damages caused by the leakage in the HRT to houses in Mokhar village

New Links :  http://www.jagran.com/news/state-10802084.html

http://www.jagran.com/news/state-10802084.html

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120418/himplus.htm#2

 Chanju Hydro Electric Project, Chamba

Project Chanju HEP
Capacity (MW) 36
Basin Ravi (Chanju Nallah)
District Chamba
Village Dhalanjan
Pictures was taken on 30/04/2014
Cracks on the walls of Aaganbhadi Kendra of Dhalanjan village due to the tunnel construction of 36 MW, Chanju HEP in Chamba on Ravi basin’s Chanju nallah
Cracks on the walls of Aaganbhadi Kendra of Dhalanjan village due to the tunnel construction of 36 MW, Chanju HEP in Chamba on Ravi basin’s Chanju nallah
Lilo Devi’s house was located just above the HRT of the Chanju project. 12 houses were completely damaged by the tunnel construction in this village in December 2013
Lilo Devi’s house was located just above the HRT of the Chanju project. 12 houses were completely damaged by the tunnel construction in this village in December 2013
Power house site of Chanju HEP, where 1000s of trees were damaged by the blasting for the tunnel construction due to activation of a landslide
Power house site of Chanju HEP, where 1000s of trees were damaged by the blasting for the tunnel construction due to activation of a landslide

People of Dhalanjan village show their destroyed and dilapidated structures

People of Dhalanjan village show their destroyed and dilapidated structures

People of Dhalanjan village show their destroyed and dilapidated structures
People of Dhalanjan village show their destroyed and dilapidated structures
People of Dhalanjan village show their destroyed and dilapidated structures
People of Dhalanjan village show their destroyed and dilapidated structures
People of Dhalanjan village are now residing in temporary shelters
People of Dhalanjan village are now residing in temporary shelters

A.T. Hydro Power Project, Chamba

Project A.T. Hydro
Capacity (MW) 5
Basin Ravi (Tarela Nallah)
District Chamba
Village Alwas
Pictures taken on 01/05/2014
Landslide at Alwas due to road and channel construction for 5 MW Tarela project in Chamba
Landslide at Alwas due to road and channel construction for 5 MW Tarela project in Chamba
Cracks in the house of Shri Baija Ram due to Tarela Project in Alwas village
Cracks in the house of Shri Baija Ram due to Tarela Project in Alwas village
Lanslide close to Alwas village due to Tarela project
Lanslide close to Alwas village due to Tarela project

Ginni Hydro Power Project, Chamba

Project Ginni Hydro
Capacity (MW) 5
Basin Ravi (Tarela Nallah)
District Chamba
Villages Tarela, Junas
Picture was taken on 01/05/2014
Watermill rendered dysfunctional due to landslide cause by construction work for the 5MW Ginni Project in Tarela village in Chamba. The Project also diverted the water that was being used by the village for the watermill. Almost 15-20 watermills in this village have dried up due to the project’s construction activities
Watermill rendered dysfunctional due to landslide cause by construction work for the 5MW Ginni Project in Tarela village in Chamba. The Project also diverted the water that was being used by the village for the watermill. Almost 15-20 watermills in this village have dried up due to the project’s construction activities
The location of the landslide which dried up the watermill
The location of the landslide which dried up the watermill

Landslide due to the construction activities and then subsequent destruction of the penstock of the Ginni project further led to soil erosion. The village above the slides, Junas has 20 houses and now stand threatened

Landslide due to the construction activities and then subsequent destruction of the penstock of the Ginni project further led to soil erosion. The village above the slides, Junas has 20 houses and now stand threatened

For Part 2 of the photo essay related to tunneling impacts of hydropower projects in Kinnaur district, see: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/photo-essay-on-the-impacts-of-blasting-and-tunneling-for-hydropower-projects-in-kinnaur-district-in-himachal-pradesh-2/

END NOTES:

[1] The photo blog also appears here: http://www.himdhara.org/2014/08/06/photo-essay-when-mountains-are-hollowed/

[2] For a detailed article on this issue, Seeping through the cracks, see: http://www.epw.in/web-exclusives/seeping-through-cracks.html