After the Uttarakhand disaster which struck in June 2013, green activists have been blaming it all on dams, tunnels and hydropower projects in the area. But Now, an expert committee of the environment ministry believes that there should be enactment of legislation for protecting small but significant rivers as this area is eco-sensitive. “A larger number of members of the panel have consensus that the hydropower projects aggravated the damage to surroundings.
The high impact of multiple hydroelectric projects along the same river basin and the threat of a cascading chain of catastrophes in the case of structural failure causes such as the floods of June 2013 suggest that there is an urgent need for a region or entire basin-based strategic environment assessment rather than individual project-oriented environmental impact assessments that neglect the summation effect.
The expert committee was constituted after Supreme Court’s order to assess the impact of existing and under-construction hydro projects on the Uttarakhand disaster, and the possible impact of 24 proposed projects in the state on the biodiversity of the Alakhnanda and Bhagirathi basin.
According to the report, the panel suggested the environmental clearance from the environment ministry for all projects of more than 2 MW that entail tunnelling, barrages and reservoir construction, apart from clearance from the NBWL for projects falling in legally protected areas.