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Dams might have negative influence on River Ganges, says Water Resource Ministry of India

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Broken end of footbridge over the Mandakini river at Rudraprayag Image: Wikimedia Commons
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  • Hydroelectric projects on Mandakini, Bhagirathi and Alaknanda river might affect Ganges in a negative manner  
  • The water resource ministry wants SC to review these projects
  • The region around the projects are geologically weak and seismically active 

NEW DELHI: The water resource ministry has opposed the hydroelectric projects on the Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and Mandakini River hence contradicting the permission given by environment and power ministries for setting up of dams.

After the Kedarnath incident of 2013, when around 100,000 pilgrims remain trapped in the Uttarakhand valley after serious landslides and bad monsoon, the Supreme Court had put a hold on all the 70 proposed hydroelectric projects on the Alaknanda-Bhagirathi river basin. On May 10, SS Patwalia, additional solicitor general brought to notice that the environment and power ministry has approved the construction of five of the six projects, namely— Lata-Tapovan (171 MW), Jhelum Tamak (108 MW), Kotlibhel 1-A (195MW), Alaknanda (300 MW), Khironi Ganga (4 MW) and Bhyunder Ganga (24 MW).

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The water resource ministry headed by Uma Bharati informed the Supreme Court that any further hydroelectric projects on Alaknanda, Mandakini and Bhagirathi rivers can be dangerous for Ganga.

State of Sri Kedarnath Temple during the 2013 Kedarnath tragedy
State of Sri Kedarnath Temple during the 2013 Kedarnath tragedy

The ministry argued that the permission was given before the unfortunate Kedarnath tragedy of 2013 but now there is need for a comprehensive hydrological and hydro-geological study to know how dams can affect the flow of rivers.

“All these new projects are coming up close to the existing projects, many of which are in ecologically sensitive areas hindering the source of fresh water resource. Hence, any further project will have substantial impact on ecological footprint of the area,” the ministry said.

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According to the ministry, the permitted projects are around regions which are geologically weak and seismically sensitive. So, there is a need to review these projects. The ministry said that Ganga could remain pure and pristine only if Alaknanda, Mandakini and Bhagirathi rivers are allowed to flow freely invoking the ‘Aviral Dhara’ of the Indian government which aims for a clean and continuous flow of the river Ganga.

-This report is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Aparna Gupta

    Its true that we need more hydroelectric plants to generate more electricity but not on cost of individuals

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Not only SC but environment experts should intervene in such matters

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Another Deadline Missed, No Draft Scheme on the Cauvery Dispute Till Now

On the expiry of the six-week deadline, the Centre sought extension of time till the completion of the electoral process in Karnata for submission of the Scheme.

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The court said that even if the Centre has not framed the scheme, Karnataka, under the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award, was obliged to make monthly releases to Tamil Nadu.
Supreme Court of India. Wikimedia commons

The Centre yet again failed to submit a draft Scheme on the Cauvery river water dispute before the Supreme Court on the ground that the Prime Minister and other ministers were campaigning in Karnataka, which Tamil Nadu flayed as “brazen partisanship”.

Seeking 10 more days to finalize the scheme, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud: “A draft scheme has been placed before the Cabinet. Because of Karnataka elections, the Prime Minister and all other Ministers are in Karnataka. Before that the Prime Minister was abroad (in China).”

It also sought response from the Centre on the steps taken by it since the pronouncing of the judgement for putting in place a scheme for implementing its order on the sharing of Cauvery water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
Parliament of India, wikimedia commons

The Centre’s submission was countered strongly by senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, who said: “Sorry to say, the Central government is politicizing the issue. They are worried about their electoral fate in Karnataka. Election in Karnataka is on May 12 and somehow they don’t want to do it till then. We have enough of it. It is brazen partisanship of the Union of India. It is the end of co-operative federalism.”

The apex court in its February 16 judgement had directed the Centre to frame a Scheme within six months in accordance with the recommendation by the Cauvery River Water Tribunal for constitution of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) and Cauvery Regulatory Authority (CRA), which Karnataka opposes strongly.

On the expiry of the six-week deadline, the Centre sought extension of time till the completion of the electoral process in Karnata for submission of the Scheme. Tamil Nadu filed a contempt petition against the Centre for failure to act within the deadline.

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During Thursday’s hearing, the court directed the Karnataka government to respond on how much of the four TMC of water it can release by month end. It also sought response from the Centre on the steps taken by it since the pronouncing of the judgement for putting in place a scheme for implementing its order on the sharing of Cauvery water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

In the course of the hearing, the court asked Karnataka to release 4 TMC of water by Monday.

The court said that even if the Centre has not framed the scheme, Karnataka, under the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award, was obliged to make monthly releases to Tamil Nadu.

The court directed the next hearing of the matter on Tuesday. (IANS)