Update on dams, options & related issues sandrp issue four june 2002

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Ministry Of Power’s Façade of R&R ‘Consultation’ On May 14, 2002, Ministry of Power called a meeting on R&R in power sector that looked more like a meeting of rehabilitation of power sector mandarins. SANDRP was invited for the meeting, but had to walk out from the meeting. The following letter to the Union Power Minister written the next day and the attached note that was given to Power Ministry officials are self explanatory. Protests letters are understood to have been written by a number other organisations including Narmada Bachao Andolan, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra and Matu.
To: Shri Suresh Prabhu

Union Minister for Power
Dear Sir,
This is to explain to you the circumstances under which I walked out of the one meeting on “R & R in Power Projects” in protest yesterday at the end of Technical Session One. I had informed Joint Secy Mr. Anil Razdan that I am walking out in protest and had requested him to circulate the attached note to the participants of the meeting including you. I am attaching that note with this letter in case he has not given you a copy so far.

I had rather reluctantly agreed to come for the meeting. The reluctance was due to the fact that none of the important people or organisations that have been doing some real work with and for the affected people since many years had not received invitation for the meeting till 13th May 02 morning, till when I was in touch with them. I have mentioned some of the names in the first point of the attached note. I myself received the invitation very belatedly, only on the 10th May, without any agenda, schedule, names of speakers or any material that would reflect the state of thinking in the ministry on the subject. After receiving opinions of a number of colleagues and most importantly, thinking that may be the meeting would lead to some progress for the people affected by large dams, some of the most condemned people of the country, I decided to go for the meeting. I also thought that may be the ministry should be given a benefit of doubt and may be they had invited some affected people or their organisations that I have not contacted or I do not know of. How wrong that thinking was!

On seeing you, minister of state for power, power secretary, CEA chairman and joint secy on the pedestal in the first session, on hearing these dignitaries, one was starkly disappointed. On seeing CMD NHPC, CMD THDC, principle secretary MP and senior Sardar Sarovar official from Gujarat as scheduled speakers in the first technical session on R&R for hydro projects chaired by CEA chairman (only other sessions in the meeting were for thermal and transmission projects), I started wondering if I have come to the right place or was the meeting about R&R of CMDs and power ministry mandarins? Not one affected person, not one affected people’s organisations and not one non governmental organisation or person among scores of people working on these issues for decades, surely known to you and your ministry (if not otherwise known, at least through our correspondence a few weeks earlier) and you have not bothered to assure participation of any of these? About the content of what was spoken at the meeting, less said the better.
This kind of meeting on R&R would be unacceptable to any right thinking person. My continued participation may provide some legitimacy to a meeting when none is due, I thought. I then informed Mr Razdan about this decision and walked away.
In the twenty first century, when you all do not tire of talking about participatory governance and sustainable development, this kind of event is difficult to imagine. If you were really interested in doing something worthwhile on this issue, the attached note would provide some directions, I hope.
Thanking you for your attention and best wishes,

Himanshu Thakkar

Brief Note on

Resettlement and Rehabilitation

in the context of Power Projects

For a One Day Meeting in New Delhi on May 14, 2002

Called by Ministry of Power

1. Firstly, I must thank Union Power Minister for calling me for this meeting. This was a pleasant surprise, at first glance, it seemed. Then I checked with the people and organisations working on these issues with affected people for very long time (e.g. Shri L C Jain, former member of Planning Commission, Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Chittarupa Palit and Alok Agarwal, also of NBA, working with Maheshwar and Mann affected people, Shripad Dharmadhikary a senior activist of NBA also involved in the process of World Commission on Dams, which has come out with the most remarkable of report of displacement and rehabilitation, Shekhar Singh of Indian Institute of Public Administration, involved in these issues for years and also associated with Union Environment Ministry and Planning Commission for many years and whose book on social impacts of large dams have just been published, Ashish Kothary of Kalpavriksha, Girish Sant of Prayas, Vimal Bhai involved with Tehri issues, Prashant Bhushan, a Senior Supreme Court advocate, Ravi Hemadri working with Bisalpur affected people in Rajsathan, to name just a few of the important, well known people and organisations involved in these issues for a long time and known to power ministry through our earlier correspondence) and I was shocked to learn that possibly none of them were invited.
The amiability thus was quickly replaced by suspicion as to what can be the purpose of a meeting where the most important groups were missing. The first point I would like to make is that no such consultation can be worthwhile if the affected people and the groups working with them are not part of the process.

2. The second aberration that caught my eye was that invitation came at such a short notice and without any background note or papers. Now this is not even mildly shocking because R&R is not a new subject we are confronted with. And unless we take stock of what we have achieved over the years, and try and learn lessons from there, there is little hope from such consultations. Indian experience in displacing and NOT resettling its people is possibly most notorious in the world. To date, though Govt of India has yet to come up with any study or figures of people displaced by large dams, here is what the Mid-Term Appraisal of India’s Ninth Five Year Plan (Oct. 2000) said on the subject:

"Systematic irrigation development and construction of big dams in the country have caused land to be submerged and led to large scale displacement of people from their original habitat. Almost half of the displaced persons are tribals who have least resources, experience and temperament to negotiate their lives after displacement. Due to the submergence the project affected persons (PAPs) face numerous problems… There are no reliable statistics with break-up of social and economic classification of the people displaced by each of large projects since independence. Many researchers place their estimates at between 10 million and 25 million. The implementation of R&R programmes for the Project Affected Families (PAF) has thrown up the following important issues, which need consideration.

  1. Prior Consultation and information to Project Affected Persons

  2. Need for National Rehabilitation Policy

  3. Provision for land from Command area to those who bore land in the catchment area

  4. Availability of basic infrastructural facilities like health, education etc at relocation sites.

  5. Policies to take into account specific problems of most vulnerable sections of the displaced including tribals."

“The Central Government is in the process of formulating new national R&R policy. The draft NRR 1998 was prepared and widely debated by the Government. The R&R policy will seek to minimise the trauma of displacement on account of compulsory acquisition of land, and establish statutory minimum standards for packages and benefits to ensure that displaced persons are better off as a result of the project".

A clear admission, thus that Govt., over 54 years after independence and after pauperising millions have neither any record of displacement or rehabilitation nor any policy on resettlement or rehabilitation.

3. From generality to specifics Even today, the people affected by Bhakra, Damodar and Hirakud projects are yet to be fully resettled, even by the admission of local governments, not just independent reports. Not a month goes by without Himachal Pradesh CM making some announcement about the pending resettlement of those affected by Bhakra and Pong dam oustees.
The point we would like to draw from this is that unless we know what we have done in the past, there is little one can hope from such meetings.
4. Decision making process Without prejudice to what I have said thus far, let me come to the issue of R&R policy. The first important issue we would like to point out is that the issue of social impacts including displacement, resettlement and rehabilitation should form integral part of the planning and decision making, which unfortunately, is not the case. The Planning Commission Document (Oct. 2000) mentioned above said on this issue: “The process of decision making on these projects also needs to be made more open so that the public at large, and in particular, those directly affected can have access to more information about the assumptions and calculations on which the project is judged by the authorities to be technically and economically viable. This will help the people satisfy themselves that sufficient safeguards have been built into the project to take reasonable care of those who are affected by the projects and also of the potential adverse ecological consequences flowing from the construction of the project and its operation. The people will also get an opportunity to place their objections and concerns before the concerned authorities along with concrete suggestions for alternative, cheaper/safer ways of achieving objectives which the project is supposed to serve”.
To remind, this is a quote from Govt. of India’s Planning Commission.

And it implies that BEFORE a decision is taken to go ahead with the project, people, including affected people, should get an opportunity to look at the project documents to not only look at social and environmental aspects, but also the technical and economic viability aspects, so that people can make, to repeat part of the quote, “concrete suggestions for alternative, cheaper/safer ways of achieving objectives which the project is supposed to serve.”

Here a process related issue is that this process cannot be entrusted with the project implementing authority or ministry and there should be an independent authority that would certify that the project has gone through this process. In case of power projects, we can either have an independent authority for this or the electricity regulatory commissions can be entrusted with this task.
5. Appraisal Problems One major issue we would like to flag is that of serious inadequacy in basic appraisal of social and environmental impacts of power projects. To give you a few examples, in Chamera I Project implemented by NHPC, an organisation under Power Ministry, the people had to actually flee when reservoir was getting filled, as per a field study done by SANDRP. In case of Bargi Project in Narmada Valley in Madhya Pradesh, which is essentially working as hydro project now, the projected submergence was for 101 villages, but when reservoir was filled up, it submerged 162 villages, including some of what the authorities chose to call resettlement sites. In case of the proposed Teesta Low Dams III and IV projects in North Bengal being undertaken by NHPC, the affected people were not even informed the purpose of the socio-economic survey being conducted for the project.
If the projects undertaken by Power Ministry are not to become engines of pauperisation of most marginalized sections of population, then the projects must have full, proper, open, transparent and accountable appraisal. If an engineer who says 101 villages will be affected and the project submerges 162 villages and yet the engineer, planner, bureaucrat, politician or any other decision maker gets away without being answerable, then we cannot continue to believe that we are living in a civilised society.

One major issue we would like to flag here is that all kinds of people who get affected by the project, whether in the upstream, in the submergence zone, in the downstream, or in the command or benefit areas, must be part of project appraisal and definition of project affected.

6. First Principle of R&R Policy Having seen that the story of displacement, resettlement and rehabilitation shows utter failure of authorities to achieve any semblance of resettlement, leave aside the question of rehabilitation, then the first principle of any R&R policy should be avoidance, minimisation, prior resettlement. That is, first attempt must be to look for projects that avoids any displacement, and such options do exist, if we were to go even by the statements of India’s Power Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu.
When avoiding displacement is not possible, then the option chosen must have minimum social impacts. And it should be shown that indeed the option selected is a least cost option, in a publicly demonstrable way. Accompanied by such choice should be a demonstration, again in a public way that full arrangements for resettlement of the affected population is in place, including land availability. And this should be shown before taking up the project. No investment or any other clearance should be given to the project before this is shown to be the case.
The process of showing that this is indeed the case cannot be left to the project-implementing agency. In the earlier case I had suggested that possibly ERC can be involved, but since ERC or CEA does not have capabilities in social issues, we would probably need a new independent body to assure that this process is properly followed.

7. Land for Land Policy About the actual measures of R&R, the most important issue we would like to high light is that every affected family must be given a choice of getting minimum Two Ha of irrigated land with every major daughter or son on the date of section 4 notice being considered separate family. If any affected family chooses not to take land and go for any alternative R&R measure, that option can be exercised by such failies at a later date, but the authorities in the first place must offer land as mentioned above. No excuses in this respect should be entertained.

Even Govt. of India has agreed in affidavit after affidavit in the Supreme Court that Land based resettlement is the only just and proper way of resettling affected people.
One major excuse put forward in this respect is that there is no land available for resettlement. Past experience has shown that when there is political will, the authorities have been able to provide land. To give a famous example, in case of Sardar Sarovar Project, Govt. was not interested in giving land for resettlement, but it was forced under various circumstances, to agree to give 2 Ha of irrigated land to each affected family, including those landless in the affected villages. There too, the authorities had raised the bogey of availability of land, which they continue to raise even till date, showing utter lack of minimum goodwill towards affected people. However, till date, the govt. has allocated over 16000 Ha of land to affected people. This is not to say that proper R&R is happening in case of SSP. The point to note is that the authorities that were saying there is no land have been forced to find so much land for affected people.
To give a more forceful argument, just four days back, on May 10, at a meeting on National Water Policy, Member Planning Commission (Water Resources) and former Minister for Water Resources and Agriculture, Shri Som Pal, nailing the bogey of no land available, said that as per Planning Commission figures, 77 M Ha of land is available that can be put to use either for agriculture or for forestry. No excuse about no land availability can be entertained after getting this from India’s current Planning Commission.

8. Social Rehabilitation One major issue about the R&R measures we would like to draw here is that of social rehabilitation. The affected villages must get a choice of getting resettled as a village unit. It is another matter if some members of the village choose not to exercise that option. But the authorities must be obligated to give that choice to affected people.

9. Institutional Issues Besides some of the institutional issues flagged earlier, here I would like to briefly flag two issues. First is the issue of Monitoring. The project implementing authorities cannot be entrusted with the task of certifying that R&R is actually happening as per the policies, provisions and plans. There should be an independent, credible agency appointed for each project to firstly monitor and periodically provide public reports about the state of R&R. Secondly, there should be a committee which would certify about the progress of R&R and based on that, approve construction of the project at each stage. That committee must have representatives from affected people, NGOs and such other credible persons.
10. Confidence Building Measures Indian policy makers’ credibility, unfortunately, is very low as far as R&R is concerned. If the claim that proper R&R is possible is shown to have any credibility, the authorities will first have to show that such is indeed the case. And this can obviously not be at the expense of additional displacement. Any confidence inspiring case must come from resettlement and rehabilitation of people affected by projects in the past. Until it is seen and shown that people displaced in the past are indeed properly resettled, there cannot be any case for fresh displacement and until then people will have no confidence in authorities’ claims that R&R is possible.

11. Just and Sustainable Development Dam builders, including govts and other authorities are in the habit of calling all those who raise some basic questions on social justifiability and viability of development projects as anti developmental. We hope our Power Minister would not fall in that trap. For, causing displacement is not the only way of achieving development. Moreover, it is nobody’s case that no development is necessary. However, as we move towards Johannesburg and Rio + 10, we can not loose consciousness that any project that in stead of reducing poverty, generates more poor people, can neither be called just, nor sustainable and never a developmental project.

12. Next Steps Full appraisal and addressing of past social impacts, putting together a transparent options assessment process, legally enforceable R&R policies, institutional mechanisms mentioned above and holding all displacement related projects on hold till than are some of the basic next steps that one can think that the Power Ministry can take up, in consultation with the people mentioned in first point above and all such other people. The God, in this case, is not in detail, as some would say, but possibly in compliance, the weakest point of our God fearing society. The existence of yawning gap between our words and deeds cannot inspire any confidence.
South Asia Network On Dams, Rivers and People

May 2002
Does the Power Ministry understand Environmental issues? A half page response feature (THE TIMES OF INDIA 180402) by Union Minister of State for Power raises questions if the Power Ministry really understands social and environment issues associated with Hydropower projects. Here is a sample of some misleading and some patently wrong statements:

  • Information for land required for the project is not given, but only land under submergence is given. This gives a misleading picture as in case of Uri project, while 235 Ha of land was required, extent of submergence given is nil.

  • There is column in the first table with heading “Plants affected (number)”. How the authorities could have counted the number of affected plants beats imagination.
  • The feature claims, “Hydroprojects do not cause any substantial soil erosion”, which clearly shows that the author does not understand what all activities are involved in hydropower projects. Would be well advised to read Large Dams in India: Environmental and social impacts by Shekhar Singh and Pranab Bannerji of Indian Institute of Public Administration. The statement in the feature “Activities like construction/ widening of roads, construction of project components etc. may further aggravate deforestation” contradicts the first statement, and goes to show how little the author understands environmental impacts. This second statement quoted here also contradicts another statement coming later on, “The direct impact of run-of-the-river project on flora and fauna is limited to the vicinity of the project”.

  • From the second table of the feature, it is clear that project authorities are not treating full catchment area of the project, required for its sustained existence. They not even treating full free draining catchment areas, only a small portion of it. In case of Rangit project, about 16% of freely draining catchment is even claimed to be “under treatment” when the project has been commissioned years ago. No wonder the projects silt up so fast.

  • On R&R, the feature makes most far-fetched and unbelievable claims, “Rehabilitation of Project Affected Persons receives the due importance in NHPC right from the stage of planning… The displaced people are resettled, much in advance of the project commissioning.” Nothing can be farther from truth. In case of Chamera I project in Himachal Pradesh, people had to flee when the reservoir was getting filled as per SANDRP survey.

Teesta Hydel project raises concerns The residents of Kalijhora, Gielle, the Environmentalists of north Bengal and others are irked at the construction of the Teesta ‘low’ dam projects III and IV, to be built by the NHPC, across the glacier-fed Teesta river. Under the project, a total of 184 Ha of forest land including the famous picnic spot of Kalijhora will get submerged. Besides, 2.5 km of NH 31A will have to be realigned. The Chief coordinator of Kalijhora Janakalyan Manch said, “The survey report prepared by the North Bengal University is not done properly as the main residents of the area were not interviewed. The PWD and the NHPC are playing the game to remove us from here.” According to the Indian Meteorological Department, the area falls under seismic zone level IV. The continued accumulation of silt and gravel will erode the hillsides flanking the Teesta. Due to underground water seepage and the rise in water level, Kalijhora village might get submerged and their livelihood and habitat destroyed. (THE TIMES OF INDIA-K 170402)

Sub: Representation RE Teesta Low Dams III and IV

Under Section 29 of Elec Supply Act Notification
A number of organisations including Himalay Paryavaran, SEED, NESPON, Teesta Bachao Andolan and SANDRP sent representations to NHPC in response to notice of NHPC under section 29 of Electricity Supply Act (1948), objecting to the proposed Teesta Low Dam projects near Siliguri in northern W Bengal. Some of the important points in the representations include the following.
1. First point is procedural. NHPC is a project implementing agency and it has already shown to have vested interest in pushing the project. Thus it cannot be entrusted with the task of responding to the representations like this one and an independent agency should be asked to look into and respond in detail to the representations received objecting to the project. Accordingly, we are copying this also to Chairman CEA and Chairman CERC.
2. NHPC has been going ahead with some serious nature of work at the project sites. This is happening, for example at Kalijhora township and upstream of the Coronation bridge in case of Stage IV dam. The Chief Eng of the project accepted that a tunnel, 2.2 mts in diameter and 300 mts depth is being done, though he called this to be testing work. Work of such scale cannot be called testing and would have irreversible and serious geological and other impacts for the region. This only goes to show NHPC has little respect for basic norms.
3. The work described in point 2 above is happening in reserved forest area and also entails creation of roads, lighting and related work. This has already meant felling off a number of trees for which NHPC has no permission.

4. The project is going to submerge part of NH 31A and the alternative path that have been marked out, we were told, goes through reserved forest possibly under Mahananda Sanctuary. As per the Supreme Court order, no authority has permission to divert any land under any sanctuary or national parks. Hence, the project would be violating the Supreme Court orders and unless there is specific permission for this, the project cannot go ahead and all related expenses would be a waste.

5. Teesta Valley has the highest incidence of landslides in the country. The project area is known to have high density of known land slips. There is also the issue of one of the highest siltation rates in Teesta river. Under the circumstances, geological and sediment related feasibility of the project is under doubt.
6. Moreover the projects of this nature would also have serious impacts in upstream regions when large amount of water is permanently stored. These impacts do not seem to have been taken into account while taking up the project and unless this is done, the project would bring unforeseen serious adverse impacts.
7. Teesta valley, like the rest of the Himalayan region, is highly seismically active area and the project would not only pose a threat in case of an earthquake, it would also accelerate the occurrence of earthquakes.
8. The project and the intermittenent nature of flow of water in the downstream region that it would induce would have serious downstream impacts. These will be of many kinds. Geomorphologic impacts would be one of them. Coronation Bridge, just 400 mts downstream of stage IV dam, would be endangered, for example, besides many other impacts in the fragile geology of the region.
9. There are many serious problems with the way environmental impact assessment of the project seems to be getting done. The local people of course have no role in this and they are not even informed about the project, leave aside taking their free prior and informed consent about the project. Even while taking up socio economic assessment, the local people were not informed about what this is being done for. Any EIA done in this manner and any project taken up in this way can have no place in any democratic society and the project in any case violates fundamental rights of the local people.

10. The Teesta Stage IV project is to submerge the picnic spot and eco tourism developed by the local people with their resources. Livelihood of almost all the people of Kalijhora township depends on this. And the project authorities, even after repeated questioning, have no response as to how the local people will be compensated. On the contrary, as local people told us, there is constant attempt to threaten and otherwise take away their existing habitations in various ways. The socio economic impacts of the projects would be serious and there is no attempt to bring into project parameters. The project authorities do not have any R&R policy or plan, least of all credible record or mechanism to make this possible.

11. The projects are supposed to provide peaking energy as per the presentation made by the Chief Eng NHPC at a meeting in Siliguri on 210402. However the proposed projects have no storage capacity and for a project to provide peaking energy, off peak time water storage facility is required. Alternatively the project authorities can choose to shut off the stations during off peak hours, but in that case the project cannot achieve electricity production equivalent to 52% Plant load factor as claimed in the notification of 150302. Hence the notification is clearly giving wrong, misleading information.
12. Moreover, in the notification or otherwise, hydrology of the river at project site is not given or available to people. As you know, feasibility of the project cannot be ascertained without knowing the hydrology of the river at the dam site. Under the circumstances, people are asked to trust the project authorities as far as feasibility of the project is concerned. Past experience of NHPC shows that such trust would be misplaced and in any case such huge amount of public money cannot be invested under trust in a few unaccountable engineers.
13. Hydrological feasibility of the project also comes into doubt as till recently, the installed capacity of stage IV project was said to be 168 MW, which has suddenly been envisaged to be 200 MW now.

14. The project cost (which has always proved to an underestimate as per past experience of such projects) as given in the Section 29 notification, at Rs. 2.98 per unit of electricity produced at bus bar is at Sept. 2001 prices, we assume. When T&D losses prevailing as it does in W Bengal at 40% are included, the cost would go up to Rs. 4.97 per unit. This does not include the investments necessary for related T&D works. Under the circumstances, this is very high priced power. As we all know, the main problem with the ongoing controversy in Dabhol power project, where the station is ready to produce power, is that the power cost is considered too high even at Rs. 3 per unit at present cost. It is difficult to imagine who would be able to pay for the power produced by the proposed projects. In any case, this does not seem to be least cost option.

15. Many dams have come up and more are under construction and planned on Teesta valley and its tributaries. There is no attempt to see the cumulative impact of the project on the society, on ecology, geology, hydrology, downstream areas and in holistic way. Unless this is done, and projects are still proved to be useful, the proposed projects should not go ahead.
Looking at all the above points, we clearly see that the project should not ahead in the present form unless all the points raised above are addressed in a manner satisfactory to everyone concerned, local people most importantly.
NHPC to exit from Koel Karo

The NHPC has confirmed its desire to exit the project, “We have asked the Power Ministry to either help us get clearance from the state govt. and the Centre or give us permission to wind up the project.” The project was handed over to the NHPC in 1981. Today the estimated cost per unit of power is expected to be between Rs 6 and Rs 7. NHPC’s inability to resolve the issue of rehabilitation of around 100 000 people to be displaced by the project has been one of the main problems. (THE INDIAN EXPRESS-D 010402)

AASU-NHPC controversy The kidnapping of an engineer of NHPC Gerukamukh created a misunderstanding between the All Assam Students' Union and the project officials. AASU called one-day bundh after lodging of false complaint by NHPC and arrest of their Gerukamukh branch president by the local police. Dramatically police released AASU leader after release of the abducted engineer by unknown kidnapper. The controversy started when the NHPC has launched 2000 MW Subasiri HEP project. The AASU leaders expressed their resentment stating that the local people are deprived of employment in the Rs 100 B project. (SENTINEL 020402)

Nathpa Jhakri Financial Bungling The CAG has taken a serious note of the Himachal Pradesh Govt. retaining with itself loans of Rs 12.577 B raised during 1999-2001 for payment of equity in the Nathpa Jhakri Power Corporation. The govt. raised loans of Rs 7.57 B through the HPRIDC during 1999-2001 by securitisation of the receipts of free power from NJPC for about five years from the date of commissioning of the project. The amount was deposited in the govt. account and no equity payment of these loans had been made to the NJPC up to March 2001. The annual return of Rs 3.5 B from free power sale from the NJPC had already been considered sufficient by the govt. to liquidate SLR - borrowings of Rs 8.99 B made by the state govt. earlier through the HPSEB during 1994-2000. Securitisation of the same receipts of free power for raising loans through HPRIDC was thus, not justified.

  • Corruption Fresh cases of corruption has been reported in this project. The Jai Prakash construction got an ad hoc payment of Rs 420 M as advance against the admissible claims of Rs 0.451 M. The vigilance dept. has pointed out irregularities in a payment of Rs 28 M to Continental Foundation. (THE TRIBUNE 290302, THE HINDU 140402)

Srisailam Project unviable: CAG The Comptroller and Auditor General of India in its latest report has said that the Srisailam project has become unviable on account of a huge escalation in the cost of the project. The 6x150 MW Srisailam HEP was sanctioned in 1986 but the real work started from 1996 after the JBIC had approved direct payments to the equipment suppliers, and sanctioned the required loan. As against Rs 11.666 B sanctioned by the Planning Commission in 1991, the project cost has now escalated to Rs 34.32 B including IDC of Rs. 9.5 B. The project cost has worked out to be Rs 38.1 M per MW. The 3rd unit of the project was commissioned on April 21. (BUSINESS LINE-D 220402, 240402)
Excess Hydro Capacity in Karnataka Karnataka has installed hydro power capacity of 3000 MW, whereas the thermal capacity is about 2000 MW, thus the state has adverse hydro-thermal mix. (Other states can use this to create better hydro thermal mix?)
  • Malfunctioning at Sheravathi Tail Race Project As the gate of the dam did not shut in time at the World Bank funded 180 MW Gurusoppa HEP, water (which could have yielded electricity worth Rs 1.7 M) leaked away. (BUSINESS LINE 020302, THE HINDU 270402)

Japanese funding to Hydro projects in India Japan continues to remain the largest among the bilateral donors funding hydropower and dam projects in India. Among the projects currently funded by Japan’s ODA include the Paithan HEP in Maharashtra, Purulia Pump Storage Project in W Bengal, Umiam HEP in Meghalaya, Tuirial HEP in Mizoram, Srisailam left Bank HEP in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu State Micro Hydro Power Stations Construction Project. In addition, Japan also funds India Gandhi Canal Area (afforestation and Pasture development), Rajghat Canal Irrigation Project in MP, Rengali irrigation project in Orissa in irrigation sector and several others (e.g. Kerala Water Supply Project, Bangalore Water Supply Project, Yamuna Action Plan) in water sector. (THE HINDUSTAN TIMES 290402)
Sutlej Upper Valley Power Corp. HP CM announced that the Sutlej Upper Valley Power Corp. in the joint sector with NJPC and other central orgs will be set up. The 400 MW Rampur HEP, 225 MW Karchham-Shongton and 400 MW Thpan-Pouwari HEPs could be executed by the Corp. (TRIBUNE 080302)
Larzi Coffer dam breached Sudden rise in the level of Beas river has led to breach in Larzi coffer dam. (TRIBUNE 270402)

CEA Green Signal for Almatti Project The Central Electricity Authority has given its techno-economic clearance for the 290 MW HEP in Karnataka. In line with the Supreme Court order, the CEA had approved the Rs 6.74 B project, to be developed by the KPCL, on the condition that no physical capacity would be created to store water above the 519.6 m level at Almatti Dam. Karnataka had proposed to raise the water reservoir level to 524.2 m from 509 m for increasing power generation, which was opposed by Andhra Pradesh. The Supreme Court settled the issue in April 2000 by restricting the water reservoir level to 519.6 m and by imposing a cap on total water utilization by Karnataka at 173 trillion cubic m per annum. (BUSINESS STANDARD-D 06/03/02)

NorthEast Projects Union Power Minister assured Mizoram that the 80 MW Bairabi HEP would be taken up in the coming Power Minister’s conference and said that he would personally ensure that the project is implemented. “The project would be made a multipurpose project involving different union ministries like Water Resources, Rural Development and Inland Waterways,” he said. He also said that all efforts have been made to begin the works of 210-MW Tuivai Hydel project in the State. He dedicated to the nation the 75 MW Rs 8 B Doyang HEP built by Central sector NEEPCO in Nagaland’s Wokha district.

  • CEA approves Mizoram HEP The CEA has accorded techno-economic clearance to the Bairabi HEP. Located on the Bairabi River a 62 M high and 180 M long earth fill dam would be built to generate 210 MU of electricity annually. The dam would, it is claimed, will provide a 180-km waterway for transportation of goods from the capital Aizwal to Silchar. The project is likely to be developed in 7 years and is estimated to cost Rs 5.226 B. The proposed reservoir would submerge 6 villages with a total population of 6 500. (ASSAM TRIBUNE 030302, 040302 SENTINEL 030302 PIB PR 120302)

Kerala signs pact for rubber dams The Steel Industrials Ltd. of Kerala has signed an agreement with Hydroconstruct of Austria for construction of rubber dams in the country. The SILK sources said that rubber dams as old as 25-30 years are in operation in many countries such as US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Austria, Indonesia, China and the Philippines. They are ideal for total water resource management such as irrigation, groundwater recharging, flood-control and hydropower generation. According to preliminary studies, rubber dams would find wide application in rivers such as Bharathaouza, Periyar and Pampa in Kerala. The total cost of rubber dams will be lower than that of conventional concrete dams. The rubber dams can be shifted around provided the site parameters are similar. They can also be used in catchment areas for generation of power. (BUSINESS LINE-D 040302)

Conditional approval Rs 3.30 B bonds for Maheshwar The Madhya Pradesh Cabinet has given its approval in principle for giving a standby guarantee for Rs 3.30 B convertible bonds being issued by the Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation. For securing the guarantee, the company will have to ascertain all financial arrangements and complete necessary formalities within six months from the date of letter of intent. It will have to renegotiate with the loan providers about the rate of interest and make it at par with the current market rate. The company will have to devise measures to lower the project cost and maximum possible limit of interest during the period of construction. “Though the govt. will make amendment in PPA, there is no written agreement on reducing the power tariff which is expected to touch Rs 5.06 per unit on the completion of project in 2005-06,” Official said.

  • The NBA has demanded that the project be scrapped, all public money withdrawn, and punitive action taken against all officials. The NBA questioned the State Govt.’s stand saying that the decision to extend guarantee came at a time when orders had been issued to confiscate company’s movable properties. The NBA demonstrated that while the power from the MHP is prohibitively expensive, over 60,000 people would stand to lose their lands, homes and livelihoods because of the project whose rehabilitation is well nigh impossible. The departure of five US and German power utilities from this Project and the refusal of the German and Portuguese govts to stand guarantees have also demonstrated that the Project is socially, technically and financially unviable. (THE HINDU-D 30/03/02 & 07/04/02, BUSINESS STANDARD-D 2/04/02 & NBA PR 05/04/02)

Time and Cost over runs in J&K HEPs The Minister for Power said that an MoU has been signed between the State Govt. and the Union Ministry of Power under which 7 HEP have been handed over to the NHPC for execution. The Minister said for completion of Upper Sindh Hydel Project-II, Sewa-III and Chenani-III loan assistance has been arranged from PFC while as REC is providing loan for execution of Haftal, Sanjak, Marpachoo, Pahalgam and Bhaderwah projects. He said the Sawalkot Hydel Project has been contracted to NCC led consortium of Norway. 450 MW Baglihar project will be commissioned by 2004.

  • Dulhasti According to the Standing Committee’s 23rd report, the cost of Dulhasti, which has been delayed by four years, increased from Rs 12.629 B to Rs 35.598 B. The report recommended that responsibility should be fixed for huge time and cost over-runs. (DAILY EXCELSIOR 080302, 180302)

Ranganadi HEP commissioned The NEEPCO with assistance from the NE Council has commissioned all the 3 units of 135 MW each of the 405 MW Ranganadi HEP in Arunachal Pradesh, the largest HEP commissioned in the North East. With this, NEEPCO has achieved its capacity addition target of 654 MW during the 9th plan period and raised its installed capacity to 1105 MW. The project comprises of a 68 m high concrete dam and a water conductor system of length 10.78 km passing through a difficult geological terrain. The diversion dam is located at Yazali on River Ranganadi and the powerhouse is located 29 kms away at Hoz on the bank of river Dikrong. Annual envisaged energy generation is 1876 Gwh (i.e. 52.8% PLF is on very high side). (PIB PR 280302)

Public hearing on Athirappilly Some of the important observations and recommendations of the Kerala State Pollution Board Panel on the Public Hearing of the Proposed Athirappilly HEP conducted on Feb. 6, 2002:

  • The public contended that the EIA was not conducted properly and entirely. Some of the studies were conducted during rainy season only and round the year study was not conducted. The project proponent did not cover many aspects primarily required for EIA.

  • The matters related to deforestation, socio-economic aspects and impact on downstream sites were not dealt with in the EIA in detail.

  • The “Rapid EIA” done by the project proponent is incomplete, inadequate and a comprehensive EIA is necessary for actual assessment of the environment impacts.

  • The concept by the KSEB that ‘the downstream area will get a constant flow due to power generation’ is against facts and baseless. The quantity of the constant flow throughout 24 hours is not specified in the EIA. The water budgeting aspects with respect to irrigation, water supply and salinity intrusion is not considered. The aquatic organisms will be seriously affected and damaged due to the significant changes in the flow pattern especially during night time.

  • There is no adequate water for power generation. The present water scarcity in the downstream side of Chalakudy River will be aggravated and the irrigation and water supply schemes will be affected adversely. There will be salt-water intrusion.

  • The EIA is silent about the impact in the river system during summer season. The storage of water in pits and rock pools is not sufficient to maintain the life in the river and the non-availability of water will completely damage most of the aquatic organisms.

  • The KSEB admitted that the costs due to social and environmental impacts were not accounted while fixing the cost of electricity.
  • The absence of Athirappilly waterfalls and Vazhachal rapids after 6 pm will affect the life in the river stretch up to the Kannankuzhy and this is not acceptable as the natural system of waterfalls is completely lost for 12 hours besides the ecological impact due to absence of water that is essential for the existence of the aquatic life.

  • The panel observed that the impact on the tribes at Vazhachal (60 families) should have been considered and there should have been rehabilitation plans.

145 representations were received in response to the public notice on the public hearing. During the public hearing 117 representations were received. The entire project affected people who attended the public hearing opposed the implementation of the project. (PR "Chalakudy River" 260302)

  • Niagara-like project for Athirapally suggested In a questionable move, the environment impact study agency Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute of the controversial Athirapally HEP in central Kerala has suggested a Niagara and Victoria model of project, which combines power generation with tourism. At the famous falls on the US-Canada border, water is stopped during the night for power generation and allowed to cascade down during the day. However, it is indeed very strange to see that an academic body, who was entrusted the task of doing an EIA for the project, is now seen to be publicly advocating that very project, thus proving that the body has abdicated the responsibility of a responsible EIA agency, raising many questions on the EIA study. (THE TIMES OF INDIA 310302)

Iruppu HEP in Karnataka rejected The forest dept has rejected the Environment study report of the proposed Iruppu HEP in Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary of Kodagu district. The Deputy Conservator of Forests of Kodagu has drawn attention to many mistakes and contradictions in the report done by Institute of Catchment studies and Environment Management. As the project region comes within the limits of Wildlife sanctuary, it is not possible to give permission for the project; the Chief Wildlife Warden has clarified. (KANNADA PRABHA-B 110302)

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