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New conditions for hydro project

delhi Updated: Jun 30, 2011 00:18 IST
Chetan Chauhan

In a moral victory for BJP leader Uma Bharati, the environment ministry is expected to ask Alakananda Hydro Power Corporation Limited (AHPCL) to clear the muck in environment friendly manner and stop relocation of Dhara Devi temple till experts review the plan.

Before rejoining the BJP, Bharati had been protesting against the 330 MW project on river Alakananda and forced environment minister Jairam Ramesh to issue a stop work order on dam construction. Alakananda river is tributary of river Ganga.

The minister had constituted an inquiry committee on the alleged environmental violations, which submitted its report last year. Earlier IIT Roorkee and another inquiry committee had analysed the project.

"From 2008 to 2011, three committees have drawn pointed attention to the severe shortcomings pertaining to muck disposal. No further construction work should be allowed until AHPCL had demonstrably overhauled its practices of much disposal," Ramesh said, in an internal note this week.

The note also said that on relocation of Dhara Devi temple an outside agency like INTACH with a conservation architect should be brought on board. Only after the relocation plan has been modified resuming construction can be considered, he said, adding that the reworking of the plan should be done in consultation with local people and priest of the temple.

The minister also wants that environmental impact study of IIT Roorkee of Alakananda and Bhagirathi rivers to be studied before stop work order is revoked. The ministry is expected to issue a letter to APHCL in this regard on the 330 MW Alakananda hydro project this week.

Ramesh clears coal blocks for three power plants in Orissa
In a bid to change his image, environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday approved six coal blocks for three major power plants in Orissa.

"All the six coal-blocks are part of the IB Valley coalfield and only one (Meenakshi-A) is presently in the 'go' area, the other five being in 'no go' areas...All six blocks will now be considered by FAC (Forest Advisory Committee) as 'go' areas," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in a statement.

Giving green signal to clear coal-blocks linked to Ultra Mega Power Plants, the minister said the power ministry should give special focus on ash disposal and water availability.

Three coal-blocks (Meenakshi-A, Meenakshi-B and Meenakshi Dipside) have been allocated to the 3960MW/4000MW Ultra Mega Power Plant (UMPP).

Coal-blocks (Manoharpur and Manoharpur Dipside) have been allocated to the 1320 MW power plant of Orissa Power Generation Corporation (OPGC). One coal-block (Dulanga) has been allocated to NTPC's 1600 MW power plant.