LOCALS, ACTIVISTS WRITE TO MIN TO REVOKE PINDAR RIVER PROJECT
Thursday, 18 January 2018 | PNS | Dehradun-
Local residents and activists under the banners of Bhu–Swami Sangharsh Samiti (Deval, Chamoli) and Matu Jansangathan have written to the Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Harsh Vardhan, requesting that the recommended Forest Clearance for the 252 Mega Watt Devsari Hydro Electric Project on the Pindar river be revoked due to facts being overlooked. Their letter has also been endorsed by academicians and activists from other parts of the nation.
Referring to the recommendation given by the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) for the proposed 252 MW Devsari hydro electric project on Pindar in the meeting on December 20, 2017, the locals and activists of State that the proposal for stage-I forest clearance for the proposed HEP is incomplete because 0.754 hectare of forest land already stands diverted for the existing Deval HEP. They point out that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and environmental management plan (EMP) for the proposed Devsari HEP was made in 2008. However, since then the ecology of the proposed project affected Chamoli regions has changed. In 2010 the region experienced large scale landslides and floods but the EIA has not taken this into consideration.
They state, “In June 2013, there was a massive flood in the Pindar river specifically in the proposed project area. Since then the river has changed its course. The devastating floods and landslides led to roads getting destroyed, affecting numerous villages with the reconstruction work still ongoing. However, the FAC has completely overlooked these facts.
Earlier FAC meetings took the right approach and did not recommend clearance without resolving the issue, and the latest FAC meeting seems to have over ruled the earlier FAC stand without any justification or reason. All in all, the FAC has recommended the proposed HEP for grant of stage-I forest clearance without scrutinising the project in all its entirety and has shifted the responsibility for clarifying the dispute over 0.754 hectare of forest land to the State Government which seems to have no conclusive answer to the same.” They have demanded that the MoEFCC should not consider the FAC recommendation for the proposed HEP and direct the FAC to reconsider the issue and pass any decision after completely sorting these issues.
The letter by locals and activists has been endorsed by Uttarakhand based historian Shekhar Pathak, Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, Delhi University associate professor Sudha Vasan, St Stephen’s College, Delhi University associate professor Sanjay Kumar, Pushp Jain of EIA Resource and Response Centre, Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People along with social and environment film maker Tarini Manchanda. Pathak, Mishra, Vasan and Kumar were also involved in people’s public hearing on the proposed Devsari HEP on the Pindar held during 2011 in Deval at the confluence of rivers Kail and Pindar in Chamoli district. Manchanda had documented this people’s public hearing.
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