Srinagar Hydro-Electric Project-The Cat is out of Bag
Project Name: Srinagar Hydro Electric Project 330 MW (but cleared by MoEF for 200 MW)
River: Alaknanda (Tehri & Pouri Distt.) Uttarakhand
Environment Clearance: 3-5-1985
Agency: GVK Group of Andhra Pradesh
The Srinagar Hydro- electric Project of 330 megawatt on the Alaknanda river in Uttarakhand is a dam that stands on fraud papers, measurements and accounts. Furthermore the project is going on paying no heed to necessary the environmental and legal standards. As a result of this, the Coffer dam collapsed. In the state level the monitoring is equal to level zero and the reason why no action is being taken. It is the phenomenon that has been going on since the last decade.
On 3rd May 1985, showing the reason of great shortage of electricity in the region the Center gave the permission with some very general conditions. The plan to start the work for the main dam was in 1987-88 but it got cancelled and many authorities changed including big names like Tata. At last in 2005 the project is given in the hands of GVK Group of Andhra Pradesh.
Matu Peoples’ Organization has written to various governmental and related parties to the issue demanding immediate closure of the construction work so that the environment the region can be saved. But neither it got any response nor any action was taken.
The environment clearance for this project was of 200 megawatt but without any study or survey it was increased to 330mw. On the proposal of Uttar Pradesh State Electricity Board for the environment clearance on 12-3-85, the proposed height of the dam was of 73meters and it was a run of the river project. In the proposal the authority announced that it will not pose negative impact on the environment but it is truly baseless announcement because-------
The houses of this place have got cracked
The wastage of the dam construction is being thrown in banks of Alaknanda without making any security wall and it is going in to the river. As a result of it the river changed its way creating havoc for the colonies of Srinagar town.
Because of the dust coming from the construction the crops and greenery of the region have been harmed.
The people of this place specially children some diseases mainly Asthma, Allergy of skin and eyes have increased.
On these very serious issues neither the State Pollution control Board is paying any heed to it nor the central agency is taking any action on it.
The conditions those were mentioned in the Environmental Clearance of 29-03-1985 were also not fulfilled.
One of the condition of the Environmental Clearance was that there should be geo-morphological studies to be undertaken in the catchment to formulate plans for the stability of the slopes and reservoir periphery through engineering and biological measures. But in the Monitoring report of 26-6-06 of the Environment Ministry mentioned that thus didn’t took place.
If the project authority fulfils the condition of making a 50meter green belt above the pond then there would be no land accusation for it. But without the approval of the people the green belt is not possible and if after the completion of the project the land is taken for the purpose then the the people will be pressurised in the name of security of the dam. If the land is accusation is done now then replacement will be seen as huge.
The Environment Appraisal Committee has given the clearance for the 200mw project on the basis that 300 hector lands will be flooded by it among which 175 hectors are forest land. On 12-04-1985 UP Sate Electricity Board sent a notice to the environment Ministry. Here the Board had mentioned in detail about the adverse effects of the dam on the environment but it was meant for 200mw only.
On the basis of that only the Environment Appraisal Committee has appealed for the environment clearance to the MOEF and the ministry had given the clearance on 23-3-1985 for 200mw. Surprisingly the conditions of the clearance letter were in accordance with the 200mw plan.
In September 1986, the Irrigation department of UP decided to increase the Srinagar Power project from 200mw to 320.7mw. and sent the proposal to Central Electricity Authority(CEA).
The MOEF and Forest Department of UP had given clearance for 338 hector land. On 23-3-90 the Special secretary of UP had written with detailed conditions to the Forest Dept of UP to transfer 328.86 hector forest land to the irrigation department. Surprisingly the basis of this letter is also the clearance for 200mw environmental clearance.
CEA on 14th June 20000 gave the project reapproval. On 6th of November 1982 CEA gave financial and technical approval to the Srinagar Project as a Run of the River project where as the Ministry Of Environment and Forest (MOEF) gave approval to it as Run of the River project with pondage.
According to the rules of 1985, the Environment Clearance from MOEF is valid for 5 years. But after 14 years in 1999 without any enquiry the old clearance was extended. The same extention happened after 6 years again which means that the project is running on the basis of the clearance of 1985.
In 1985 the propsed height was of 63meters but now it has been increased to 93 meters. It shows that drastic changes have been made in the project but on the basis of an age-old environment clearance.
The environment clearance of the dams reservoir is of 604 meters but near dhari devi it touched the 611 meters mark. But the forest clearance was for 605.5 meter deep reservoir.
The Economic and Technical clearance from CEA was given on 14-06-2000 but the main work of the project is yet to start. The clearance that was for 3 years got expired on 14-06-2003 but still the work is on?
The CEA in its clearance has clearly mentioned that the cost of the project is of 1299 crore plus 95 million US dollar. In 2006 MOEF monitoring committee mentioned cost as 1968. It seems that there is a big corruption going as the increase of cost effects the cost of power.
In the Onsite Monitoring Report of 26th of August 2008 submitted by the State Level Committee mentioned that there is no proper hygienic facility for defection and and because of open defection Alaknanda and the nearby places are getting polluted. Moreover the details and nos of trees chopped down in the name of dam construction is not available.
IN the same report it was ordered to the Podi office to disposal the waste of the project according to a proper plan from a reputed institute and to do video-graphy of this. But the Podi office of the Forest department said that neither their was plan formed nor any video-graphy took place. It was found that no condition was fulfilled at any stage. It is obvious that the government department is paying no heed to it.
It was planned that that in the Srinagar Project the water wil be stored at day time and electricity will be created in the evening at the time of need. But it will stop the flow of the river. Besides it will adversely affect the hydro-electric projects at the down of the river for which the craze is same.
With all these faults and down the table friendship of the government institutions and nad the project authorities is adversely impacting not only on the Alaknanda, Srinagar but also on the health and hygiene of the people living there. It is also an attack on the financial and environmental condition of a state and of the country as a whole. Should these projects still continue even after that? Only to produce electricity, should we sacrifies all the rules, regulations, environment, our human and natural rigts and our moral values.
Our demand is
The Government should stop this project immediately and release whit paper.
Proper remuneration and settlement for the replaced
Find alternatives of the works done till now so that the local people can get employment
Will Govt. of Uttarakhand answer this?
Executive Summary is given below;--
ith the creation of Uttarakhand in November 2000, its hydro-power potential was
recognized as key to the development of the State. The Government chalked out an
ambitious plan to harness its hydropower potential through the concerted efforts of both the State and the private sector. The State policy to encourage generation of hydro-power was formulated in October 2002. The prime aim was to develop the state as ‘Urja Pradesh’, which would cater not just to the needs of the State but also to that of the power starved northern grid.
A performance review of the implementation of hydro-power projects through private sector participation was covering the key aspects of planning, allotment, operation, environment impact and monitoring of the projects revealed that:
Forty-eight projects with a total planned generation capacity of 2423.10 MW had been undertaken by Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in the State during 1993 to 2006, however, till March 2009, only 10 per cent of the projects with generation capacity of 418.05 MW were complete and operational. The prime reasons for the delays are problems associated with land acquisition, forest clearances and enhancement in project capacities. Significant areas of concern leading to non-achievement of the planned generation capacity are inadequate
pre-feasibility studies for the projects, deficient project execution and primarily, absence of monitoring and evaluation of the projects by departmental authorities/nodal agency (UJVNL).
More grave is the total neglect of environmental concerns, the cumulative impact of which may prove devastating for the natural resources of the State. Specific shortcomings in the State’s initiative of hydropower development through private sector participation are enumerated below:
i) Pre-implementation Arrangements Pre-feasibility (PFR) study based on ground survey of the river basin, its topography and hydrology was to be carried by Uttarakhand Jal Vidhyut Nigam Limited (UJVNL), the nodal agency, for accurate evaluation of the hydro-power potential of a river/stream. However, significant alterations ranging from 22 per cent to 329 per cent in the capacity of 85
per cent of projects, raised serious doubts on the credibility of PFR studies
[Paragraph 3 1]
The systemic deficiencies were used by the project developers in their favour as out of 13 sample projects, nine projects were designed to be pegged just under the threshold of 25 MW to garner maximum benefits from enhanced capacity and to avoid enhanced royalty payment, which would have become due had the capacity been fixed at 25 MW or more.
There were instances of undue extensions, without charging for liquidated damages, for implementing the projects in the garb of capacity revision, implying loss of royalty and deprivation of anticipated benefits from electricity. In addition, the Government also faced the prospect of incurring huge financial losses on account of upfront premium.
Pre-feasibility studies should be carried out with due diligence so that reliable data can be obtained for computation of power potential of projects. There is a need for standardization of norms for working out dependable water discharge, plant efficiency and other crucial inputs and therefore, a uniform and firm policy for granting extensions and terminating agreements needs to be put in place.
ii) Project Execution Out of total 48 projects allotted during 1993 to 2006, only 10 per cent projects were complete and operational after lapse of 15 years. Consequently, the envisaged power generation worth 2005.05 MW could not be achieved. As of March 2009, only two projects were likely to get commissioned in the year 2009 while nine other projects were under various phases of construction. The remaining 12 were found to have not progressed beyond the DPR/ clearance stage despite freezing of IAs.
vi. There was also no evidence of any punitive action being undertaken against any of the developers for defaulting on IA conditions. The liquidated damages, as a consequence of undue delays in commissioning of projects, were not recovered in a single case.
Further, the failure of the nodal agency to enforce the conditions of regular and timely submission of quarterly progress reports by the project developers resulted in non-assessment of the progress of projects by the Government to avoid delays in their implementation.
Negligence towards environmental and safety concerns was yet another consequence of weak monitoring by the nodal agency in ensuring adherence to prudent utility practices. A sound monitoring mechanism and evaluation system is required to be put in place to ensure that lapses on the part of IPPs during civil construction, installation of plant & machinery and operations are avoided. To fix accountability in cases of violation of conditions stipulated in the IA the Executive needs to prescribe appropriate instructions.
iii) Environment Impact
The State’s policy on hydropower projects was silent on the vital issue of maintaining downstream flow in the diversion reach (the stretch of the river from the point of diversion into tunnel to the point where it is released back into its natural stream). The physical verification of four1 out of five operational projects, showed that river-beds down stream had almost completely dried up, the water flow was down to a trickle, and extremely inadequate for the sustenance of ecology and nearby groundwater aquifers.
Given the current policy of the State Government of pursuing hydro-power projects
indiscriminately, the potential cumulative effect of multiple run-of-river power projects can turn out to be environmentally damaging. Presently, 42 hydro-power projects are in operation, 203 are under construction or clearance stage, while several others are at the conceptual stage.
Negligence of environmental concerns was obvious as the muck generated from
excavation and construction activities was being openly dumped into the rivers contributing to increase in the turbidity of water. The projects seemed oblivious of the fact that such gross negligence of environmental concerns lead to deterioration of water quality and adverse impact on the aquatic biota.
The plantation activity was highly deficient, as 38 per cent of projects reported hardly any plantation; posing severe hazards both for natural ecology and stabilization of hill slopes.
The individual and cumulative impact on the downstream river flow should be seriously considered to ensure that the projects do not result in disastrous impact on the environment. Minimum flow in the diversion reach should be computed and prescribed taking into account the groundwater recharge potential of the river, irrigation, ecology and silt load factor. It should be ensured that post-construction environmental and ecological monitoring continues and includes provisions for modifying plant operations when unacceptable impacts are observed. In accordance with the GoI guidelines, an additional 1 per cent free power from the project may
iv) Government Support
In the absence of a well-laid down policy, land acquisition proved to be a major obstacle, derailing project development from its time schedule. Forest land clearances were received with delays ranging from 85 days to 295 days in many cases.
In a certain case, grid infrastructure for power evacuation was not installed well in time resulting in energy losses and deferment of royalty payments to the Government.
The State Government may form a nodal authority for addressing the problems of land acquisition, forest clearance and resettlement & rehabilitation for all the projects. It is an essential requirement that reliable grid infrastructure should be made available well before the expected synchronization of the hydropower projects to avoid energy losses in absence of evacuation facilities.