Uttarakhand frames new rules for upcoming hydro power projects

Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UJVNL) has framed new guidelines for its upcoming hydro projects in the state to address ecological concerns. Distance of a km will be maintained between two projects and 15% of the river flow would be downstream to meet the requirements of the local residents.

The giant steps have been taken by the Uttarakhand Hydro Power Corporation Limited after taking lessons from past experience. The future of its 24 mega projects on Bhagirathi and Alakananda rivers is in limbo for past four years. The Supreme Court has been hearing the case and experts have slammed the state government for showing serious disregard to environmental concerns while planning and executing the projects, which they claimed to have also aggravated the 2013 flashfloods in the state.

Himanshu Awasthi, general manager of UJVNL, said, “It is during the planning stage itself, that environmental concerns are given importance to mitigate damaging impact. As per the new guidelines, there would now be a distance of at least one km between two hydro power projects. Two such projects, Bawala Nand Prayag and Nand Prayag Langasu would come up at Alakananda river in Chamoli district after Supreme Court’s approval.”

He said, the distance was must to maintain the free flow in order to enable the river to absorb oxygen from atmosphere for natural cleansing, otherwise the water quality starts deteriorating and it directly impacts the survival of aquatic species.

Environmentalist Hemant Dhyani said that according to a Union water ministry’s report, 51% of Bhagirathi and 39% of Alakananda rivers have already been fragmented by mostly hydro power projects. “Around 120 km river stretch from Devprayag to Tehri to Koteshwar region has hydro-power projects such as Maneri Bhali I and II, Tehri dam and Koteshwar projects in the area. It seems that whatever little is left, the state government is planning to fragment that as well for commercial gain.”

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