In an effort to assess the situation of Rivers in 2017, SANDRP is presenting the compilation of key rivers related development in the country. The first part of this Rivers Review 2017 includes Northern States including Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. The following parts will present separate accounts for Rivers in North East, West, East and South Zones. There will also be separate review reports on Ganga & Yamuna rivers.
The Chairman and members,
The Expert Appraisal Committee,
River Valley Projects,
Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Govt of India,
Jor Bagh, New Delhi 110 003
Sub: Urgent submission regarding the Environmental Clearance for the proposed 5040 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project in Uttarakhand and Nepal.
Dear Chairman & Members of the Expert Appraisal Committee,
This is to bring to your notice, and to place on record, some serious concerns related to the Environmental Clearance of the proposed 5040 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project. The concerns are both, on Points of Order, as well as observations on and serious flaws in the Environmental Impact Assessment report submitted by WAPCOS.
(Feature Image: Pancheshwar Temple at the confluence of Saryu and Kali Rivers. Pics: Bhim )
The people to be affected by the proposed Pancheshwar Multipurpose dam project are saying we need development NOT dam in ecologically sensitive Himalayan region. The untimely Environment Public Hearing (EPH) for 123 to be affected villages in Uttarakhand State has been rushed through in August 2017 with numerous violations as we reported earlier.
During one week long trip to the affected districts of Champawat, Pithoragarh and Almora, I along with Sumit Mahar of Himdhara visited proposed dam site and few of the villages that may face submergence in the unlikely possibility of the project coming up, to understand the local social and environmental issues.
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.
The recently concluded Pancheshwar dam Environment Public Hearing (EPH) is classic example of how undemocratically EPH are conducted against the letter and spirit of EIA notification of Sept 2006. Umpteen violations were committed wilfully during three EPH on Pancheshwar Dam on 09, 11 and 17 August 2017 in Champawat, Pithoragarh and Almora district of Uttarakhand.
WHY EPHs IN MONSOON? In July 2017, the proposed Pancheshwar Dam Project planned on Kali river along the India-Nepal border invited sharp criticisms from local groups. Given the ongoing monsoon rain across the disaster prone hills, the people asked the concerned District Magistrates and Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) for the rescheduling[I] the EPH. But overlooking genuine public concerns and incidents of cloud bursts and landslides causing flash floods and road blocks in the project affected districts the authorities went ahead with the EPH plans.