Skip to main content

Himachal hydro projects on major rivers "cleared" sans local nod, pollution control bodies' role "diluted": Govt told

Surlej
By Our Representative
A top civil society source has revealed that the Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) studies of  several big and small hydropower projects for Himachal Pradesh's three major river basins, Sutlej, Chenab and Beas, have either been completed are in the process of completion. However, for most of these, little or no local consultation, as required by law, has been carried out. 
A letter dashed to state environment secretary Manisha Nanda, who also heads the chief minister's office, by civil rights network Himdhara Collective has alleged, these studies have been found to be a mere formality, "as the process of giving environment and forest clearances for hydro projects has been de-linked from the CIA process."
Demanding that until complete studies are carried out there must be a moratorium on further hydro development in the state, the letter, which is based on an in-depth study of environmental assessment of all the rivers, says, there is, as of today, no "local community involvement in river protection".
A 2016 study, "Dried & Dusted: State of the Rivers Report – Himachal Pradesh", it said, "Himachal has the largest hydropower installed capacity in the country." It has "installed 10264 MW worth of projects. It is planning to harness a total 27436 MW out of which 24000 MW of power is harnessable (Govt. of HP, 2015-16) from the five major river basins of the state namely Sutlej, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Yamuna across a total of 813 large, medium and small projects and micro-hydels."
"In such a scenario the nature of development is bound to impact the state of the rivers. In the next section we examine some of the major developments that have emerged as threats to the health of Himachal's rivers", the study believes.
Basing on the study, the letter -- signed  by representatives from Him Lok Jagriti Manch, Social Uplift Through Rural Action, Himalaya Bachao Samiti, Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, Sutlej Bachao Jiven Bachao Abhiyan Samiti, Himdhara Collective and Himachal Van Adhikar Manch -- calls Beas, Ravi, Sutlej and Lower Stretches of the Yamuna (tributaries) "already critically polluted" and "in the red", adding,  the regulatory authorities are least concerned about fighting pollution.

According to the letter, the State Pollution Control Board and the Irrigation and Public Health departments' roles have "either been made redundant or they have been working to ensure least hindrance to 'developers'." It adds, things wouldn't change for the better unless the "dilutions" made in the amendments in the Hydropower Policy of 2006 made in 2014 and 16, are withdrawn.
The amendments, says the letter, have dilute "the process of No Objection Certificate (NOC) from these departments prior to approval of hydro projects", adding, "The role of these regulatory agencies needs to be strengthened with community involvement in ensuring compliance to existing legislations that protect rivers and riparian rights."
Noting dangers posed by industrial pollution, the letter says, "Special attention needs to be paid to monitoring and regulation of industrial pollution in areas like Baddi, Barotiwala, Nalagarh and Paonta Sahib. Common Effluent Treatment Plants have failed miserably and an effort needs to be made to monitor pollution at the source as well as treat the effluents there."
Industrial pollution is not the only hazard faced by the state's rivers. The letters says, despite the National Green Tribunal and High Court orders, things with regard to sand mining have not change. While following their orders it is Sand mining is is "regulated or even stopped, the revival would take place in a short period of time."
The letter wants tourism and urbanisation as needing "serious policy measures that strengthen the role of regulatory agencies as well as work towards models that are not large and commercial in nature but small scale and community owned and managed." It adds, "Four laning projects and blind road widening are not just damaging forests but also increasing erosion and the siltation on our rivers."
Seeking involvement of local community in protecting forests in order to stop erosion of rivers, the letter says, "The Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, if implemented in full spirit, will strengthen community control and ownership over forests around river basins. Unfortunately, the Himachal government has the poorest track record in FRA implementation with the forest bureaucracy impeding rather than facilitating the filing of claims process."

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

Sweden-backed study: India won't achieve 2030 UN goals, officials can't recognise SDG

By Rajiv Shah  A Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC)-sponsored study, carried out by the advocacy group Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) India, seeking to analyse the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 12, Responsible Consumption and Production (RCP), has regretted, it is "very unlikely" India will achieve any of the targets of SDG 12 by 2030 "unless some serious measures are taken by the government to reverse the present trend."

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why Church in India today needs a Rutilio Grande, martyred for stance on social justice

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  For the people of El Salvador, January 22, 2022 will be more than just a red-letter day. Three of their sons, Jesuit Fr Rutilio Grande and his two lay associates 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and 15-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus (and Italian Franciscan missionary Fr Cosme Spessotto who was also martyred) will be beatified in San Salvador.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

Stop harassment, release Kashmir rights defender Khurram Parvez: Global NGO

By Our Representative  Ahead of his hearing on January 21, 2022, CIVICUS , a global civil society alliance with more than 10,000 members worldwide, has called upon the Government of India to “immediately and unconditionally” release human rights defender Khurram Parvez. “The judicial harassment he is facing highlights the repressive environment for activists and critics in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir”, it said in a statement.