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Friday, February 3, 2012

SC notice to Forest Ministry on power projects

Dehradun, January 31
The Supreme Court of India issued notice to Union Ministry of Environment and Forest and National Hydro Power Corporation on two hydroelectric projects named Kotli-Bhel 1A (195Mega Watt) and Kotli-Bhel 2 (520 MW).
The Supreme court verdict follows Sept 14, 2010, National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) decision to dismiss the appeal against the environment clearance of these two projects filed by Vimalbhai, Rajendra Singh Negi, Trilok Singh Rawat of Matu Jansangthan, an NGO working against construction of big dams in the Uttarakhand region.
Subsequently, NEAA order was challenged in Supreme Court by Matu Jansangthan and Dr Bharat Jhunjhunwala.
Hearing the appeal against the order of NEAA, the Supreme Court Bench of Justice DK Jain and Justice Anil R Dave issued notice to Ministry of Environment and Forest and National Hydro Power Corporation.
Interestingly, despite various environmental and social issues which remain standing unanswered, a very significant cultural area is also under the threat of submergence in these two projects. These dams are proposed on Bhagirathiganga and Ganga.
Kotli-Bhel 1A (195Mega Watt) is proposed on Bhagirathiganga. The making of a 17-km-long reservoir would amputate Ganga from its last free stretch near the holy confluence of Alaknandaganga and Bhagirathiganga, known as Deoprayag. After Deoprayag, it flows as Ganga. This proposed project is just after the two big reservoirs of Tehri dam and Koteshwer dam. The area is also very much landslide prone. It is important here to note that in 2010 monsoon, the office of project proponent NHPC itself collapsed, which was nearly half a km from the proposed dam site.
Further, another proposed Kotli-Bhel 2 hydroelectric project (520 MW) consists of a 32-km-long reservoir which will submerge the holy Deoprayag. The reservoir is supposed to stretch till the Bhagirathiganga and the Alaknandaganga. This is how a triangular reservoir will come up around the Deoprayag. The old Badrinath Marg for pilgrims will also get submerged in the process.
“We will fight the battle both on ground and at the Hon'ble court to obey our duty towards our national river Ganga and its inhabitants,” asserted Vimalbhai, convener, Matu Jansangthan.
Senior advocates Raj Panjwani with Anitah Shenoy, Ritwik Dutta and Rahul Choudhary represented the petitioners before the court.

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