Tuesday, 20 December 2011

{DUU-40} Tehri Dam case 5-11-2007

“Status of R&R Works” filed in Supreme Court land slide can occur
On 23-10-2007 “Status of R&R Works” has been filed in supreme court in the main case of N.D. Jayal and Shekhar Singh vs. GOI and others on Tehri Dam by Govt. of Uttaranchal which said--During the inspection of joint survey team, cracks in village Nakot, Rolakot & Bhaldgoan were seen and it was observed that land slide can occur in these villages during impoundment upto RL 830.0 m.
It is very much clear from this, that most of the partially effected villages are under threat of landslide.
On 23 October,2007 after hearing Sanjay Parikh advocate for the petitioner Apex Court ordered authorities to file all the compliance reports within three weeks, related to what has been done by the authorities on rehabilitation part, on the reports of Geological Survey of India and on the reports of Survey of India. Including the report of District Judge (Retd.) appointed in Grievances Cell, in compliance of Apex Court order dated 24-4-07.
Blow is the article on the issue of land slides in the Tehri Dam reservoir and the report of GSI which has been published in November issue of Sopan Step, a bilingual monthly magazine.

Who will be responsible for the disaster?
VimalbhaiAnyone with a remote interest in hydro power will know that the controversial Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand is almost nearing completion, before it is fully commissioned. The Tehri Dam is a 260.5 M high structure and is being constructed to supply, 200q water to western UP and 300q to Delhi. It is being constructed on the Bhagirathi River It will also generate 1000MW electricity. However, what very few would know is that the dam is extremely unstable!
A detailed report filed by Geological Survey of India (GSI), dated 29-3-2007 present some very serious findings and expose the fact that government has been repeatedly ignoring these recommendations. This non adherence to caution can have serious repercussions on both people living around the rim area of the Dam and Reservoir and also the environment. The GSI findings clearly point to the instability of slopes above the rim of the Tehri reservoir, which has not been shared by the government or the project authorities, leave alone taken into consideration. Life and livelihoods are at severe stake.
What does the report say? The report points out:
  • Prima facie the slopes in and around Barola, Kangsali, Raulakot, Nakot, Talla Uppu, Bhald, Badhan and Hadiari villages in Bhagirathi valley are assessed
    as highly vulnerable and need immediate attention before the next filling in the reservoir.
  • Slopes below Sod Uppu, Baldogi and Muindra Sera in Bhagirathi valley are assessed as valnerable. In Bhilangana valley the slopes around Sandana, Amari
    Phadka and Myunda are also assessed as vulnerable.
  • As already recommended by GSI in 1989-90 and 1990-91, detail topographical maps on 1:5000/1:10,000 scale,based on actual ground survey, depicling all the
    details of topography, land use/land cover and drainage, may be provided immediately for geological studies.
  • Time lapse studies with the help of satellite imageries of hi9gh resolution of the reservoir area, along both the valleys as recommended in the GSI reports 1989-90, 1990-91.
  • Detail geological studies are immediately required at the areas assessed as highly vulnerable, so that the actual threat assessment can be made and slope treatment or rehabilitation, whichever is required, can be planned.
Following this, the GSI Director Mr. P.C. Nawani has clarified on 12-4-2007, that
there is no need to stop impoundment process of Tehri Dam Lake. To ascertain the impact on the rim of the lake it is essential to fill the reservoir up to RL 830.0 M and meticulous monitoring be done.
The Tehri Hydro Development Corporation informed that in coming monsoon Tehri Reservoir is to be filled up to RL 815.0 M.
Recent order of Supreme Court, dated 24-4-2007, in the main case of N.D. Jayal and Shekhar Singh vs. GOI and others on Tehri Dam.
in the post-impoundment stage, the fluctuations in the reservoir level between EL 740 0m. and EL 830. 0m (FRL) have direct bearing on the slope stability above the reservoir rim and this is the stage when detailed studies based n high-tech satellite imageries data and detailed ground surveys must be carried out to finally identify the critical or potential unstable slopes above the reservoir rim for making a detailed risk assessment report which will guide planning and implementation of preventive and corrective measures or even rehabilitation, as the case may be”. The state government will advert to this fact and take all remedial measures in this regard.
With the rehabilitation of the dam oustees still not complete, it would be a criminal offence to submerge the area before the completing the process and that to the satisfaction of the affected people.

Further, the GSI report clearly shows that the vulnerability of the identified slopes is
such that there is no guarantee that they would not slide into the reservoir, if left untreated till the next filling. Therefore, the approach suggested by Shri Nawani could well result in many of these slopes actually collapsing. This might give a retrospective confirmation to the predictions of the GSI but would not prevent the damage and disruption caused by such a collapse and increase the vulnerability.

What is most disturbing is the response of the government. Are they not aware that the impacts of land slides above a reservoir includes loss of life and destruction of property of the villages located on these unstable slopes. Also that huge increase in the silt level
of the reservoir leading to significant loss of life of the reservoir and destabilisation of the slopes underneath and around the unstable slopes, setting of a trigger effect?

Very critically, all this poses a great threat to the safety of the dam structure too. If significant land slides occur directly into the reservoir around the same time – for example during even a moderate earth quake – of which there are many in the Tehri region – or during heavy rainfall, the combined impact of these slides could create a wave in the reservoir that could over top the dam structure and cause dam failure
threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. In fact, there have been such incidents in other parts of the world where the collapse of the hill side into the reservoir has caused extensive loss of life.

Well known and respected environmentalist Shri Sunderlal. Bahuguna, and pioneer in the Tehri Dam struggle has always warned about this affect, who cares?

The GSI report also points to the gaps in their being able to monitor because of the non-availability of the required data. They have stated that in 1989-90 and again in 1990-91, the GSI had recommended that maps on 1:5000 and 1:10,000 scale be provided to the
GSI for completing immediate geological studies. These have not yet been provided, despite a lapse of 17-18 years. Clearly, till all the slopes have been properly surveyed and the highly vulnerable slopes identified and treated, the filling of the reservoir cannot be allowed, given the risks that it represents. The relevant maps are critical for this identification.

It is important to note that the mandatory Catchment Area Treatment was not done properly. For instance one of the Project Level Monitoring Committee (PLMC) report clearly said in its conclusions.

Monitoring the Tehri Dam This committee was formed by the order of Supreme Court, dated 1-9-03, in the main case of N.D. Jayal and Shekhar Singh vs. GOI and others on Tehri Dam. MoEF
sated up a Project Level Monitoring Committee (PLMC) and an Inter-Ministerial Review Committee (IMRC). The last meeting of the IMRC was held on 24-10-05 and a report submitted to the honorable High Court. On the basis of this report, the honorable High court gave an order to close down the last diversion tunnel. This diversion tunnel was closed on 29-10-05, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court by N.D. Jayal and Shekhar Singh.

A committee was also formed under the chairmanship of Garwal commissioner to look into the rehabilitation work. State government changed the pattern in 2002, the irrigation minister of state becomes the chairman and all the MLA's of Tehri District become the
members. This committee held only one meeting and then after Hon'able Supreme Court order dated 1-9-2003 the then Chief Minister postponed the committee. Unfortunately the affected people don’t know about this committee and have no say in the process of rehabilitation. No monitoring of this process is also going on.

All this continues to be overlooked and the GSI report ignored. Who will take the responsibility for any disasters that strike in the form of landslides and siltation?
Nearly 100 K.M. above the Tehri Dam in Uttarkashi a huge hill VARUNAVAT got slides in 2004. Till date the treatment of the hill is on and the people have not been rehabilitated Such instances will happen repeatedly in the area as the Catchment Area Treatment of Tehri Dam Project has not been done properly along with the disregard to the cautions of the GSI report. For instance report of PLMC clearly said in its first conclusions, that the records of Forest Department show that our of 44160.10ha of area planted. 6289.87 ha have been reported to be a failure and 13454.39ha was just satisfactory. There is maximum failure of plantations near the Dam site.
Unfortunately, last time the Project Level Monitoring Committee (PLMC) visited the Tehri Dam area was on 30-9-05. There has been no monitoring of the project after the last tunnel was closed down. It appears from practice that the mandate of PLMC was only to give reports till the all diversion tunnel was to close down. But that is not true. The PMLC was required to monitor the project compliance with conditions of clearance and with the orders of the honorable court right till the completion of the project.
All these issues related to the construction of the Tehri Dam are serious business and need to be addressed before a human-induced disaster strikes!

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