Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 06 November 2017 (NGT Asks For Fresh Appraisal Of Lower Subansiri Hydro Project)

In a remarkable development, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on October 24 has suspended the clearances given to the 1750-megawatt (MW) Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Project  (HEP) planned on the Lohit river in Arunachal Pradesh.

In its detailed order, released on October 27, the NGT ruled that the Environment Minister as Chairperson of the National Board for Wildlife (NWBL), a statutory body constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, could not “just brush aside” the views of the majority of NBWL standing committee members.

Suspending the clearances given by the Centre and the state govt, the NGT order added that “the decision taken by the Standing Committee is not in accordance with established principles of law and hence the Standing Committee shall reconsider the issue and pass appropriate orders within a period of six months from the date of the judgment”.

Environmental clearance for the project was given by the Union environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for river valley and hydroelectric projects back in 2009. An in-principle forest clearance for the Lower project was given in February 2012 and agreed upon in 2013.

However, the in-principle clearance of the project was opposed by a majority of the Standing Committee of the NBWL but subsequently cleared by the then-environment minister of state (independent charge), Jayanthi Natarajan, who was also the chairperson of the Standing Committee.

Natarajan is currently under the CBI’s scanner for alleged anomalies in clearance given for diversion of land in Saranda forest in Singhbhum district, Jharkhand to mining company Electrosteel during the previous UPA regime.

The NGT said that it is “of the view that either the Chairperson (Natarajan) should have given a proper reason for rejecting the objection of the majority of the non-official members or the decision ought to have been arrived at based on the opinion of the majority of the members. Even though the Standing Committee is a recommendatory body, the same being a statutory committee, is bound by the laudable principles of justice and fair play”.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 06 November 2017 (NGT Asks For Fresh Appraisal Of Lower Subansiri Hydro Project)”

Dams

Loud Media Message: Public hearing of  Pancheshwar Dam is illegal

Before, during and after the controversial public hearing of destructive Pancheshwar Dam, held in three districts in Uttarakhand, wide media reports in print, in audio-visual and social media gave a loud and clear message: The public hearings violated all legal and democratic norms, in letter and spirit and were clearly illegal.

The Pancheshwar multipurpose project has generated much controversy in India and in Nepal. Its Environment Public Hearing (EPH) was held on August 9, 11 and 17 at Champawat, Pithoragarh and Almora in Uttarakhand. Held during monsoon season in disaster prone hilly region they have invited sharp criticism from all concerned.

There have been scores of reports by local and national media revealing the significant environmental issues being compromised by concerned authorities. We have compiled some key media reports here to illustrate,  how clear is the message from all media that the public hearing, the EIA and the project itself involves so many violations of law and democratic norms. They are clearly unacceptable.  

Continue reading “Loud Media Message: Public hearing of  Pancheshwar Dam is illegal”

Hydropower · Uttarakhand

Why Vishnuprayag and other Uttarakhand Hydro Projects continue to affect two years after the June 2013 disaster

In the last week of June 2015, there were widespread rains in Uttarakhand, accompanied by warning by the Dehradun Met Department. The pilgrimage to Kedarnath and Badrinath was affected with massive landslides damaging roads and bridges. But strangely there was little news about the hydropower projects. It was only when Vimalbhai informed me y’day that power generation at Vishnuprayag hydropower project has stopped that I decided to dig deeper into this issue. Continue reading “Why Vishnuprayag and other Uttarakhand Hydro Projects continue to affect two years after the June 2013 disaster”