“Bolo Jai Jai Baba Bhole”, the Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modi, while speaking at Kedarnath in Uttarakhand in Oct 2017[i], asked the people in audience to chant with him. Indian deity Mahadev, the presiding deity at Kedarnath on the banks of Mandakini river is possibly the closest to rivers and nature among all the deities, as is also clear from his attire. Baba Bhole is one of the many names of this deity. Incidentally, the massive, controversial Pancheshwar Dam a pet project of Mr Modi will also submerge the Pancheshwar Mahadev Temple, where too, the presiding deity is same Bhole Baba. But we will come back to Bhole Baba. Continue reading “Who exactly needs the Pancheshwar Dam?”
Protests and controversies around Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP) are only growing louder and wider. While Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) Rivers Valley Project in unnecessary hurry considering the project tomorrow (05 Dec. 2017) http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/2811201745T4GD5I10thAgendaEACHydro05122017.pdf
Villagers and local groups people also continue raising their concerns and objections against 5040 Mw dam project. Today, scores of villagers, environmental groups including regional political party have protested at Jhulaghat in Champawat, Pithoragarh, Almora and in Delhi demanding EAC to listen to the voices of local people and groups.
(Above: Protest outside MoEF on Oct 24, 2017 when EAC met to consider EC for Pancheshwar Project)
Oct 23, 2017
Chairman and Members, Expert Appraisal Committee (River Valley Projects), Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, Jor Bagh, New Delhi
Respected Chairman and Members,
The agenda of the EAC (for RVP) to be held on Oct 24, 2017, put up on the EC website only on Oct 18, 2017, just six days before the EAC meeting includes the 5040 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose project (PMP), India’s largest proposed hydropower projects. The agenda should be available at least ten days before the meeting, and this should also be a reason for not considering the Pancheshwar project by EAC for its meeting on Oct 24. Moreover agenda mentions 5600 MW Pancheshwar project, where as the capacity as per EIA is 5040 MW. Is MoEF just callous in mentioning wrong installed capacity or has the capacity gone up? In either case, the 5040 MW Pancheshwar project should not be on EAC agenda. Continue reading “Letter to MoEF’s Expert Committee: Why Pancheshwar Project should not be considered for Environment Clearance”
Featured Image: Saryu River winding through Pithoragarh by Sumit Mahar, HIMDHARA
This is Hindi version of SANDRP petition submitted to District Magistrate Almora, Pithoragarh and Regional Official, Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board, Uttarakhand pleading them to postpone the unfair and unjust public hearing of Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project on Mahakali River. The English version of same can be seen here https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/cancel-pancheshwar-dam-public-hearings-it-involves-too-many-violations-and-illegalities/
भीम सिंह रावत, सैनड्रप,
पंचेश्वर बॉध पर्यावरण जनसुनवाई,
अल्मोडा, उत्तराखण्ड, 17 अगस्त 2017
अध्यक्ष पंचेश्वर बॉध पर्यावरण जनसुनवाई,
एवं जिलाधिकारी, अल्मोडा उत्तराखण्ड
अध्यक्ष क्षेत्रीय कार्यालय प्रभारी
उत्तराखण्ड पर्यावरण सुरक्षा एवं प्रदूषण निंयत्रण बोर्ड देहरादून,
आदरणीय पंचेश्वर बॉध पर्यावरण जनसुनवाई अधिकारिक सदस्य दल,
आज पंचेश्वर बॉध परियोजना की अल्मोडा जिले में तय तीसरी एवं अंतिम पर्यावरण जनसुनवाई, पूरी तरह से पर्यावरण प्रभाव आकलन Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) राजपत्र 2006 के नियमों के विपरीत है। अतः इस जनसुनवाई को निरस्त कर, प्रभावित गॉववासियों से समोचित चर्चा के बाद, भविष्य में यथोचित स्थान पर जनसुनवाई कि जानी चाहिए।
इस जनसुनवाई को निरस्त करने के अनेक कारणों में से कुछ मूल कारणों को निम्नांकित किया जा रहा है। Continue reading “पंचेश्वर बॉध की अनुचित, अन्यायपूर्ण एवं गैरकानूनी पर्यावरण जनसुनवाई रद्द हो”
50-D, AD block, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi 88
August 11 2017
1. District Magistrate,
2. Chairman/ Regional office incharge,
Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board,
COPY to: 1. IA Division (River Valley Projects) MoEF, Delhi
2. Chairman and Members of Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects
Respected Members of Public Hearing Panel for Pancheshwar Dam,
The public hearing now being conducted for the massive Pancheshwar Dam at Pithoragarh today, as part of the requirement under the EIA notification of Sept 2006 is being held in complete violation of letter and spirit of many norms of the EIA notification. Hence these public hearings should be cancelled. They should be rescheduled after appropriate conditions are achieved for the public hearing. Some of the key reasons for this are listed below, but these are not exhaustive reasons, but only a list of key indicative reasons. Continue reading “Cancel Pancheshwar Dam Public Hearings: It involves too many violations and illegalities”
In the middle of monsoon season, authorities have fixed August 7, 11 and 17 as public hearing dates for the Pancheshwar Dam project, a giant dam on Mahakali river at India Nepal border. The proposed dam will submerge 134 villages in Pithoragarh, Champawat and Almora districts. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/uttarakhand/public-hearing-dates-for-land-fixed/437736.html
The public hearing is happening, when media news reports have widely revealed that villagers have not been informed properly. Many to be affected villagers have even said that they have no information regarding the public hearing. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/ngo-seeks-postpone-of-pancheshwar-dam-hearing/articleshow/59727412.cms Social media reports, too have disclosed that the state govt has disseminated no relevant information regarding Pancheshwar dam public hearing. https://www.facebook.com/pg/dev1bhoomi/posts/?ref=page_internal
The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project is incomplete and not shared with villagers in affected area in local language. On the contrary the environment ministry has waived off the requirement of a joint mechanism to assess its environmental impact. https://www.masterbuilder.co.in/india-nepal-pancheshwar-project-assessment-guidelines-now-eased/
The public hearing place is far away from the dam site making the public hearing site unreachable for many concerned villagers. It is worth to mention that its monsoon season, the region in landslide affected, several roads are blocked and it’s not possible for the most of the concerned villagers to reach the hearing venue.
Local people, regional parties, individuals and civil societies groups have been raising concerns on the disastrous impact of second highest dam project of the world. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/pancheshwar-dam-spells-doom-for-locals-of-130-villages-who-fear-tehri-re-run/articleshow/57561939.cms
Experts’ demand of postponing the meaningless is right. In a democratic system, the concerned authorities must hear the public voices. It is their responsibilities to share all the relevant information in public domain beforehand, conduct the public hearing in each and every dam affected districts instead of just one place. The present weather conditions are not favorable for the public hearing at all and it must be postponed. http://matuganga.blogspot.com/2017/07/23-8-2017.html
Its also beyond understanding that why such a unviable, high impact, risky project is being pushed in a seismically active region is a multi billion rupee question. http://www.firstpost.com/india/pancheswar-dam-uttarakhand-makes-steady-progress-project-to-generate-employment-power-irrigation-3837837.html
Himachal Pradesh Lahaul-Spiti people condemn Jispa dam, demand eco tourism During a public hearing held on July 17, 2017, regarding 300 mw Jispa hydro project, local people of Jispa village have severely criticized the project making it clear that they would not allow the project. Agitated people also forced the officials to leave the meeting without any outcome. It is worth to mention that since 2009, people of Todh valley in Lahaul-Spiti district are opposing the Jispa Dam project proposed over Bhaga river, a tributary of Chenab, at Jispa village. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/jispa-dam-locals-demand-eco-tourism-not-hydel-project/articleshow/59665492.cms
As per, Rigzin Samphel Hayerpa, Convener of Jispa Baandh Jan Sangarsh Samiti (JBJSS), hundreds of residents of the affected villages had made it clear to the officials that they would not allow the valley to be ruined in the name of development. He added that merely on the ground that the project was of national importance, destruction of fragile ecology could not be allowed.
Zila parishad member from Kwaring Chhime Lhamo said the state government wanted to construct the dam against the wishes of the local people. She said that from the start the people were against the project but the government was not scrapping it. She also said that development at the cost of destruction cannot be allowed. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/meeting-over-jispa-dam-yields-no-result/articleshow/59657026.cms
National There is very interesting discussion with Union Power Minister, which clearly shows that Hydro is no longer viable even with all the additional subsidies the govt is considering. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaGujdFCwCA&sns=em
Above: Title page of Sawalkote EIA Executive Summary
January 14, 2016
J&K State Pollution Control Board,
Parivesh Bhawan, Forest Complex, Gladni, Narwal, transport Nagar,
Jammu (J&K) Telephone Nos:- 0191-2476925, 2476927
- Sh. Abdul Razak, IFS
Chairman, J&K State Pollution Control Board, Mob:- +91-9419188852, email@example.com
- Sh. Vasu Yadav, IFS
Member Secretary, J&K State Pollution Control Board, Mob:- 0194-2311165, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Regional Director, Jammu,
J&K State Pollution Control Board, Jammu. Email: email@example.com
Sub: Violations in public hearing for 1856 MW Sawalkote HEP
in Ramban, Udhampur and Reasi districts in J&K
Respected Chairman, Member Secretary and Regional Director,
We understand from J&K SPCB website that the pubic hearings for the proposed 1856 MW Sawalkote Hydropower project is to be held in Udhampur (Village Panchari), Reasi (Village Mahore) and Ramban (Village Tanger) districts at 10 am on January 18, 21 and 28, 2016 respectively. However, we notice a number of problems in this context, some of the key ones include: Continue reading “Open Letter to J&KSPCB: Cancel Public Hearings for Sawalkote HEP for violations”
August 21, 2015
Chairman and Members,
Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects,
Union Ministry of Environment and Forests,
Subject: Concerns about Ken Betwa River Link Proposal
Respected Chairman and Members,
The agenda for the Aug 24-25, 2015 meeting of EAC includes the proposal to consider Environment Clearance for the Ken Betwa River Link Project in Madhya Pradesh. In that context, we would like to raise following concerns: Continue reading “Letter to MoEF Expert Appraisal Committee: Reject Ken Betwa Proposal”
Minutes of Government of India meeting on Lower Subansiri HEP in Dec 2014 rejected by movement:
Shoddy Cumulative impact assessments, lack of public consultations won’t help
The public hearings required for the Ken Betwa River linking project (KBRLP) are to be held on Dec 23 and 27, 2014 at Silon in Chhattarpur and Hinouta in Panna districts of Madhya Pradesh. However, these public hearings violate fundamental legal norms in letter and spirit and should be cancelled and not held till these violations are rectified.
Firstly, the EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) notification of September 2006 clearly states that project EIA and EMP (Environment Management Plan) should be put up on the website of the Pollution Control Board a month before the actual public hearing. However, a perusal of the MPPCB website (http://www.mppcb.nic.in/) shows that the full EIA and EMP are still not uploaded on the website. When I talked with the concerned officers of the MPPCB, they confirmed that full EIA-EMP reports have NOT been uploaded on the MPPCB website.
Secondly, even the executive summary of EIA-EMP Report on the website is put up in such an obscure fashion that it is not possible for any common person to locate it. So I called up the phone number given on the MPPCB website: 0755-2464428. I was then told that I should call 0755 2466735 to talk to Mr Kuswaha about this. When I called Mr Kuswaha, he directed me to call Mr Manoj Kumar (09300770803). Mr. Manoj Kumar told me at 5.15 pm on Thursday, Dec 18 that he was already home and that I should call him at 12 noon next day. He however, confessed that even the executive summaries were not there about 15 days ago! When I called Mr Manoj Kumar next day and succeeded in connecting only after a few attempts, he told me that I need to first click on “Public Hearing” tab (Under EIA notification). On clicking this, one goes to a page with a table displaying various lists entitled List 1, List II, List III and List IV etc. Then one needs to click List IV. On clicking that one will see a list of projects from 469 to 601 and in that you go to project no 594 which is the Ken Betwa Project. There is no mention of the date of Public Hearing here.
I also called up Dr R K Jain (09425452150) at MPPCB regional office in Sagar, under whose jurisdiction Chhattarpur and Panna come to ask about the availability of the full EIA and EMP in soft copies. He said they are available at designated places, but about not being available on MPPCB website and available executive summaries not being properly displayed on MPPCB websites, he said that he is unable to do anything as that is happening from Bhopal.
When I told him that it is impossible for anyone visiting the MPPCB site to find this project and that the current public hearings need to be displayed more prominently, he hung up the phone, saying he has no time to answer such questions! In any case non-display of the public hearing date and executive summary in Hindi and English in easily searchable form is another violation of the EIA notification.
Thirdly, when we go through the Executive summaries in English and Hindi, we see that both are incomplete in many fundamental ways. The Hindi executive summary has completely wrong translations. I could find nine gross translation errors in just first 16 paragraphs. The Hindi translation has not bothered to translation words like monsoon, MCM, PH, LBC, CCA, FRL, MWL, K-B, tunnel in first 16 paras, nor given their full forms. This makes the Hindi translation completely incomplete, wrong and unacceptable.
Fourthly, even the English (& Hindi) version of Executive summary on MPPCB website is incomplete. It does not have a project layout map, sections like options assessment and downstream impacts.
Fifthly, the EIA claims in very second paragraph: “The scope of EIA studies inter-alia does not include water balance studies.” This is a wrong claim since water balance study of the Ken Betwa links establishes the hydrological viability of the project and by not going into the water balance study, the EIA has failed to establish hydrological viability of the project. SANDRP analysis in 2005 of the NWDA feasibility study of Ken Betwa Proposal had established that the hydrological balance study in the Feasibility of the Ken Betwa Link Project is flawed and an exercise in manipulation to show that Ken has surplus water and Betwa is deficit. As the collector of Panna district noted in 2005 itself, if the 19633 sq km catchment of the Ken river upstream of the proposed Daudhan dam (comprising areas of eight districts: Panna, Chhatarpur, Sagar, Damoh, Satna, Narsinghpur, Katni, and Raisen) were to use the local water options optimally, then there will not be any surplus seen in Ken river at the Daudhan dam site and by going ahead with the Ken Betwa Link without exhausting the water use potential of Ken catchment, which is predominantly a tribal area, the government is planning to keep this area permanently backward. But the EIA of Ken Betwa link does not even go into this issue, making the whole exercise incomplete.
Sixthly, the Ken Betwa Link project is a joint project between Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Madhya Pradesh (MP), about half of the benefits and downstream impacts in Ken and Betwa basins are to be faced by Uttar Pradesh, but the public hearings are not being conducted in UP at all, the proposed public hearing is only in MP! Even within MP, the link canals will pass through and thus affect people in Tikamgarh district, but the public hearing is not being held in Tikamgarh district either.
Seventhly, the project had applied for the legally required Terms of Reference Clearance (TORC) and the same was discussed in the meeting of Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley Projects of Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) on Dec 20, 2010. However the public hearing is being held more than four years after EAC recommended the TORC and that is way beyond the normal term of two years for which TORC is valid and even for extended term of TORC of four years. The public hearing being conducted without valid TORC can clearly not be considered valid under EIA notification and hence there is no legal validity of this public hearing.
Eighthly, the EIA done by the Agriculture Finance Corporation of India was already completed when the project applied for TORC! I know this for a fact since copies of their (most shoddy) EIA were made available to the members of the Expert Committee on Inter Linking of Rivers set up by the Union Ministry of Water Resources in Nov 2009 itself. I having been a member of the committee had critiqued the shoddy EIA in April 2010 and this was also discussed in one of the meetings where the AFC EIA consultants were called and had no answer to the questions. The same base line data that is now more than five years old is being used in the EIA being used for this public hearing! This is again in complete violation of the EIA norms.
Ninthly, in a strange development, MoEF&CC issued TORC for the project on Sept 15, 2014, following a letter from National Water Development Agency dated 18.06.2014. This letter is clearly issued in violation of the EIA notification, since as per the EIA notification, the ministry could have either issued the TORC within 60 days of Dec 20, 2010 meeting of the EAC or the TORC would be deemed to have been given on 61st day or Feb 19, 2011. However, issuing the letter almost four years after the EAC meeting and that too without mentioning the deemed clearance is clearly in violation of the EIA notification.
The TORC letter on MoEF&CC website is also incomplete as it does not mention the Terms of Reference at all! They are supposedly in the Annexure 1 mentioned in the TORC, but the letter on MoEF&CC site does not include Annexure 1. When I asked Dr B B Barman, Director of MoEF&CC and who has signed the TORC letter, he said that the project has been given standard TORs for any River Valley Project. But Dr Barman forgot that the MoEF&CC was giving the TORC for the first ever interlinking of rivers project and the TOR for this unprecedented project CANNOT be same as any other River Valley Project. The TORC letter is invalid also from this aspect.
The MoEF&CC letter of Sept 15, 2014 is also without mandate for another reason. The letter says “Based on the recommendations of the EAC, the Ministry of Environment & Forests hereby accords clearance for pre-construction activities at the proposed site as per the provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 and its subsequent amendment, 2009”. However, MoEF&CC seems to have forgotten here that the Daudhan dam site and most of the reservoir is inside the Panna Tiger reserve. Perusal of the 45th EAC meeting held on Dec 20-21, 2010 shows that EAC did not recommend preconstruction activity and the EIA division of the MoEF&CC that issued the Sept 15 2014 has no authority to allow pre construction activities inside the protected areas like Panna Tiger Reserve. Even the NBWL (National Board of Wild Life) Standing Committee meeting of Sept 14, 2006 allowed only survey and investigation and NOT preconstruction activity and in any case such activities inside protected areas cannot be allowed without Supreme Court clearance. It is thus clear that Sept 15, 2014 letter of MoEF&CC for Ken Betwa link is also without authority.
There is a third reason why the MoEF&CC letter of Sept 15, 2014 is legally invalid: the letter giving Terms of Reference clearance did not include the conditions EAC stipulated when it recommended the TORC in the EAC meeting of Dec 20, 2010. One of the conditions was that a downstream study will be done by Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute. This becomes particularly important since there is a Ken Ghariyal Sanctuary which will be affected, as also the Raneh falls, both are also tourist attractions.
However, the EIA of the Ken Betwa links has no downstream impact assessment, no mention of Ken Ghariyal Sanctuary or Raneh falls. The EIA also does not contain the CIFRI study that EAC had asked for. This is yet another reason why this incomplete and inadequate EIA cannot be basis for the public hearing from Ken Betwa Project.
This article is not a critique of the EIA of the Ken Betwa Link, I hope to write a separate article for that. Here we only see how illegal is the Public hearing for Ken Betwa link to be held during Dec 23 and 27, 2014 in Chhatarput and Panna districts. The Ken Betwa link project itself is unviable and unjustified and should not be taken up at all. But that will need another article.
It seems the current Union Government under Mr Narendra Modi and Water Resources Ministry under Sushri Uma Bharti are trying to push ahead with their River Link agenda, putting aside even legal stipulations. They also do not seem to be bothered that the Ken Betwa link will only have adverse impact on Ganga and this will also affect the Ganga Rejuvenation that they say is their priority. The EIA does not say a word on this count.
We hope the proposed public hearing will be cancelled. In any case, any clearance given to the project based on such a public hearing will remain open to challenge.
Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP (firstname.lastname@example.org)
 https://sandrp.in/riverlinking/Why_Ken_Betwa%20_EIA_is_unacceptable_April_2010.pdf, also see AFC ltd website mentioning that they got the work for doing EIA for Ken Betwa project in 2009 itself: http://afcindia.org.in/ecology_impact2.html