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Thread: 2 yrs on, Ganga hydel plans still stuck in talks

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    Default 2 yrs on, Ganga hydel plans still stuck in talks

    2 yrs on, Ganga hydel plans still stuck in talks
    Nitin Sethi, TNN, Jul 9, 2010, 08.47am IST

    Even after a technical committee of the government put in a report stating that the 600MW Loharinag Pala dam can be shut down, the government has been unable to take a call on the hydel project on Bhagirathi river in Uttarakhand. The last meeting chaired by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and attended by power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and environment minister Jairam Ramesh ended up inconclusive, with Shinde refusing to budge from his stand that shutting down the project would entail a high cost.

    Loharinag Pala is the third big dam on the tributary to Ganga, alongside the 381MW Bhaironghati and 480MW Pala Maneri hydroelectric projects.

    The fate of the dams has been hanging fire for more than two years now. In July 2008, a high-level expert group was constituted to examine the technical issues involved in ensuring perennial environmental flow in the river.

    Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand high court, responding to a petition, asked the newly formed National Ganga River Basin Authority, chaired by the prime minister, to address the issue. The NGBRA set up a committee headed by the power and environment secretary to report on the subject which by then was becoming a bone of contention between the two ministries.

    The committee noted that a series of big dams was being planned on the river, almost back to back. They suggested a cumulative impact study be undertaken while work on the ongoing Loharinag Pala continued as investments had been ploughed in it. Then, the ministry of environment and forests constituted a committee to review the impacts of the ongoing work on the project and found it deficient on several counts.

    With the matter getting entrenched, the prime minister asked the finance minister to settle the dispute between the two ministers. In their first meeting, it was decided that the Bhaironghati and Pala Maneri projects would be shut down while the technical feasibility of shutting down the third would be reviewed. A committee of technical experts was set up for the purpose.

    "Leaving the project incomplete may aggravate the risk of landslides in certain stretches and may increase the likely damage to the surroundings," the committee recommended. But it also concluded that the risks could be "mitigated through suitable measures".

    But when the three ministers met again recently, the matter remained unresolved yet again. The finance minister has decided to hold one final round after discussing the issue with the PM.

    Link - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/H...ow/6145712.cms
    Mrudul Godbole

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    Default Govt. gives go ahead due the basis of investments made

    The Government has decided to go ahead with the Loharinag Pala hydroelectric project, on the basis of money already sunk in and contracts awarded. Sharing the news that appeared in The Times of India.


    Pranab gives go-ahead for dam on Bhagirathi
    Nitin Sethi, TNN, Jul 11, 2010, 03.09am IST

    NEW DELHI: The three-member group of ministers headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has decided that the 600 MW Loharinag Pala hydroelectric project on Bhagirathi, a key tributary of the Ganga, will continue to be built.

    The decision was taken in a meeting chaired by Mukherjee and attended by Union environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh and power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Thursday.

    While a technical committee of the government had recommended that the dam project could be shut down without causing any concerns of flooding if additional measures were taken, the three-member group has decided to continue work on the project based purely on fiscal concerns.

    The power ministry and NTPC, the project developer, had pointed out that the government had already spent Rs 600 crore on the project and orders worth another Rs 2,000 crore had been placed for on-going construction.

    The three-member group of ministers had earlier decided to cancel the proposed 381 MW Bhaironghati and 480 MW Pala Maneri hydroelectric projects on Bhaigrathi. But the project underway at Loharinag Pala had become a bone of contention between the power and environment ministry.

    Mukherjee mediating between the two at the behest of the PMO had earlier decided that a technical committee would review if it was feasible to shut down the project without any damage to the environment in view of the location in a seismic zone and half-complete work.

    The committee recommended that "Leaving the project incomplete may aggravate the risks of landslides in certain stretches and may increase the likely damage to the surroundings." But the committee has also concluded that the risks can be "mitigated through suitable measures".

    Yet, when the group met again, the issue of costs entailed in shutting down the project was again revived.

    In view of the fact that 40% of the work had been completed at the dam and massive investments ploughed, it was decided that the dam would be built and then operate for seven months in a year while ensuring that 16 cumecs of water flows in the river perennially.

    Strict environmental monitoring of ecological impacts of the dam and the flow of the river have also been ordered as part of the compromise reached between the power and the environment ministries.

    The source article can be found here:

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