Govt mulls panel to check impact of dams on Ganga | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Govt mulls panel to check impact of dams on Ganga

The government is mulling over setting up a committee to examine the ecological impact of hydel projects being taken up on Himalayan water bodies, including the Ganga. This move comes amid a demand by Hindu leaders to halt projects on the river, failing which a nationwide stir would be launched. Chetan Chauhan reports.

delhi Updated: Jun 18, 2012 23:34 IST
Chetan Chauhan

The government is mulling over setting up a committee to examine the ecological impact of hydel projects being taken up on Himalayan water bodies, including the Ganga. This move comes amid a demand by Hindu leaders to halt projects on the river, failing which a nationwide stir would be launched.

Around 22 hydel projects — small and big — are in different stages of implementation across Uttarakhand. Protests have been taken up by groups favouring as well as opposing them.

Avdash Kushal, a Dehradun-based NGO activist who is campaigning for the hydel projects, alleged that the ones opposing it were being supported by the United States. "Hydel power projects are being opposed so that India would buy uranium on American terms," he said.

Meanwhile, the government is considering asking Planning Commission member BK Chaturvedi to head a committee to examine the possible ecological impact of several projects coming up on the Ganga. This comes in the wake of protests by environmental groups against an IIT report that partially supported the hydel projects.

The report had suggested that though the scope of many projects on the Ganga could be reduced to ensure sustainability of aquatic life, they should not be scrapped completely.

“We want all the projects to be scrapped,” said Shankaracharya Swaroopana-nda Saraswati at a meet in Jantar Mantar, Delhi, which saw the participation of various organisations from Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

In 2010, the government had scrapped the hydel projects of Pala Maneri (480 MW), Bhaironghait (381 MW) and Lohari Nagpala (600MW) projects, but refused to act against others. "The decision (to scrap the three projects) was based on unscientific facts and superstitious beliefs," Kushal said.

Other social activists, such as Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asian Network of Dams, Rivers and People, believe that building dams on Himalayan rivers have damaged the local ecology and — hence — no more projects of the kind should be allowed. A senior official said the government wants to constitute the committee only after taking cognisance of every viewpoint on the issue.