Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Monitor National River Ganga

Mr. T. Chatterjee
Ministry of Environment and Forest
Environment Bhavan, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road
New Delhi 110003

Ref: 1) Violation of EC in Tehri Dam Project. 2) National River Ganga health in danger.
1) & 2) Need for immediate monitoring by MoEF

Dear Sir,

First, we will describe the nature of issues that prompt our appeal for monitoring Hydroelectric Power Projects in National Ganga Valley Basin.

  1. Issues related to the Tehri Dam Project.
  2. Environmental issues related to other projects on the National River Ganga, who’s health is in danger.

1. Issues related to the Tehri Dam Project.

Environment Clearance (EC) granted on 19-09-1990.
The Tehri Hydroelectric Project covers three HEP, namely Tehri Dam HEP (1,000 MW), Pump Storage Plant (1,000 MW), and Koteshwer HEP (400MW). Two out of three, the Tehri and Koteshwer HEPs are working.
(Back ground on Tehri Dam given below on third page)

Finally, the garbage in the Tehri Dam reservoir has become unbearable for people living around it, as it pollutes the water even more and makes it untouchable for people living around the reservoir.

Information sought out by an RTI this year, shows that the MoEF does not even have a copies of the Command Area Development plan. This negligence is an indication for what the ground realities must be in the Command Area.

Several reports from the Geological survey of India state that the rim area of the Tehri Dam reservoir is in a vulnerable condition. Nearly 80 villages around the rim face land slide problems due to the Tehri dam reservoir, and yet THDC, the dam company is not willing to take the responsibility for this. A glaring example of this is the condition of homes on the sliding land, such as the 32 houses which have collapsed in and around village Madan Negi, which is situated at the rim of the reservoir. This phenomenon of land sliding started after the reservoir was filled in 2010. Work for the stability of the rim area has not been completed. Nearly 30 people and 60 animals have died in the reservior.

Oustees of Koteshwer Dam, the 3rd phase of the Tehri Dam Project are also facing the same problems. It is important to point out that the diversion tunnel of Koteshwer Dam has collapsed and electricity production was discontinued for nearly two months between 2010 to 2011. Despite this, work on the Koteshwer Dam has been completed very quickly, which raises a question about the quality of the work being done.

Recently in November 2011, the Koteshwer Dam wall was found to be leaking. The downstream area of the Bhagirathi Ganga River is being used as a dumping ground for muck extracted from the building of the Koteshwer Dam.

2. Environment issues related to other HEPs on the National River Ganga, who’s health is in danger.

The condition of Rivers today has become frightening. Due to HEPs, rivers are already in danger. Rivers do not flow freely anymore, as most of the rivers are either in the tunnels, or in reservoirs. Due to HEPs, rivers have become dumping areas of muck and garbage. One reason for this is also that HEP companies are dumping waste directly into Rivers, which is happening in complete disregard of their Environment Clearances (EC).
There is no monitoring of the water quantity of rivers once the river is diverted into tunnels for run-off the river HEPs or downstream of the reservoir HEPs.
Widening of roads by the Border Road Organisation and others, results in the excavation of mountains, and generation of earth which is also putt directly in the river without concern for environment rules.
A series of accidents have been listed for when the water from Maneri Bhali Phase-I and II is released. Sudden release of water has led to the death of people downstream. Muck released from the abandoned Loharinag Pala HEP choked Maneri Bhali-I.
The dam authority, UJVN Ltd. did not know that the reservoir of Maneri Bhali-II will submerge additional areas around it (parts of Ganshu and Jodhiyada) before it commissioned the HEP. Even retaining walls were not made until people agitated, but once the reservoir was filled, the retaining wall collapsed at many places.
Attached are some pictures and you-tube links that explain the situation.

We hope and demand from you:-

Maneri Bhali I and II:

  • There is need to urgently get the environment flow requirements of Bhagirathi downstream from MB I and MB II, through building block method. In the meantime, the recommendations of the WII and IIT Roorkee about environment flows from these projects, given in the Ganga basin report that MEF commissioned needs to URGNETLY implemented. Today the river is completely dry downstream of these projects in non monsoon months.

Tehri Dam Project
  • Immediately send an independent credible Team to assess the situation of the Tehri Dam Procject, the team must include a representative from our team as well. People must be able to easily access this Team.
  • Transfer the forest land to the oustees and change it’s land use purpose, so that Tehri Dam oustees are truly given rights to rehabilitation land.

About other HEPs on National River Ganga
  • Take serious action on the violations pointed out by this above communication and restore the health of rivers.
  • Take action to make sure that companies building HEPs and other projects take the liability for them.
  • Evolve and implement a permanent monitoring mechanism at your end involving the local people, so that monitoring is not dependent on reports furnished by the involved HEPs. (Please note that this is a mandatory legal requirement in the all HEP's ECs) and such a mechanism ensures that in the future, HEPs do not take advantage of a lack of monitoring by making rivers a dumping area for muck and other garbage.


Puran Singh Rana

Back ground on Tehri Dam

Rural resettlement is another issue which is inadequately addressed by R/R policies, as displaced people do not have access to education facilities, health, fuel, rations, roads, markets, electricity, drinking water, or water for irrigation. The situation of the R/R site is thus unsatisfactory. It is also important to mention here that more than 50% of the oustees dont have rights to land because the MoEF has not changed the land use criteria for the land they have given to Tehri dam oustees, since it remains declared ‘forest land'. Approximately 20% of the R/R land meant for cultivation is either not irrigated, full of stones and sand, or it is uneven. Approximately 30% of the given land is either near the forest or in the forest area, forest animals encroach on peoples cultivated land and damage produce.

Since March, 2004 the MOEF has done no monitoring of Tehri Dam project. The environment around the reservoir is in a bad condition. Following a case filed by N.D. Jayal, Shekhar Singh VS. GOI and another, a recent Supreme Court order from the 3rd of November 2011, states that THDC give Rs. 102.6 Crore to fulfil R/R requirements for those displaced by upto 825 meters of the Tehri Dam reservoir level. Additionally, the court denied permission to fill reservoir in its entireity, as the rehabilitation of oustees remains incomplete. Here, we are not referring to the rehabilitation of people by a reservoir level of 825 meters, but for those displaced by much lower reservoir levels as well. Furthermore, it is important to inform you that according to para no. 3.2 of the E.C, the Master Plan for the population being affected by the Tehri Dam Project and those living on the rim of the reservoir was supposed to be be prepared before 31.3.1991. Since this Master Plan was never made oustees are still suffering.

Some other issues are of access. First, in what is a pathetic state of affairs, one urban resettlement site, 'New Tehri Town,' does not have access to clean drinking water or other civic amenities. Second, people living across the Bhagirathiganga river face enormous difficulty due to a lack of connectivity with larger townships. Apart from finding it difficult to get to people who are on the other side of the river due to a lack of roads, these people lack access to their basic services such as health, education, fuel, and rations etc.

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