MOEF rejects NTPC’s Hydel project in Uttrakhand
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) has denied approval to NTPC’s proposed 261-MW Rupsiabagar-Khasiyabara Hydro-electric project at Pithoragarh district in Uttrakhand.
The project has been denied under Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act 1980 as it requires diversion of 217.522 ha of forest land for 30 years. “The project area is highly sensitive to erosion and construction of roads for the project will escalate the problem,” it said in Ministry release.
The government of Uttrakhan which had signed an MoU with NTPC (User Agency) to prepare project report submitted the proposal to the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) for approval. The FAC in its recommendation suggested rejection of the proposal since it is to be set up in a highly ecologically sensitive wildlife habitat.
The committee observed that the wildlife management plan under the project was not adequate to ensure proper safety of major endangered species in the area. It said the impact of the project on endangered species needs an in depth analysis. The project is located in the mid stretch of the river and it is one of the seven projects located along the river.
The FAC on request of the User Agency (NTPC Ltd.) re-examined the proposal last month and reiterated its earlier recommendation to reject the proposal as no new facts related to the proposal had been put forward.
In another development, the MOEF has decided to commission feasibility study of hydro electric projects that are proposed on the rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda. The study will be conducted by Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.
“In view of the fact that a series of hydro electric projects are planned, under implementation and operational on Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers, it has been decided that a comprehensive study may be undertaken on the likely cumulative impact of the projects on the flow and character of the river,” MOEF said.
The study would determine the requirement of minimum flow from the proposed and already commissioned hydro electric projects on these rivers in their entire stretch. The Ministry also feels that cumulative environmental impact of various hydro electric projects on the riverine eco system, in general, and terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity, in particular, along with a review of the effectiveness of the mitigative measures and compliance of the stipulated conditions on which various projects have earlier been cleared needs to be undertaken.