U’khand eyes dam in seismic area

It appears that no lessons have been learnt from the Uttarakhand tragedy as the Uttarakhand government has been pushing full steam ahead with the Lakhwar dam project on the Yamuna river.
This 204-metre-high dam with a storage capacity of 580 cubic metres will submerge 1,385 hectares, including 868 hectares of forest land and 50 villages. The consolidated project will involve a 300 MW underground power-house and another 86-metre-high Vyasi dam with 2.7-km-long tunnel and a 120-MW underground power-house and barrage at Katapathar.
A clearance for this dam was granted in the 80s to the UP irrigation department. But in 2003, the clearance was transferred to NHPC who in turn re-transferred it to the Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (UJVNL).
“But clearances are not transferable. How, then, is the ministry of environment permitting such transfers to take place?” questions Himanshu Thakkar heading the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People.
Sixty experts have written an open letter to the MoEF questioning how such a project can be given the green light without having received either environment or forest clearances.
There has not been any cumulative impact assessment on the various existing, under construction and planned dams and hydro-projects in the Yamuna basin. To therefore allow yet another project to come up on a river which is extremely polluted and lacks surface flow will make it unsustainable, these experts warn. They also question construction in a seismically active area prone to flash floods, erosion and landslide.
Worse, the spillway capacity of the project has been underestimated which can cause unprecedented flooding downstream, including in Delhi.
The 43rd meeting of the Environmental Action Committee in 2010 had raised major questions regarding the construction of the Katapathar barrage downstream from the Vyasi Power House at Hartiari, especially since just 10 km downstream from this barrage there is already an existing barrage at Dak Pathar. Why then is another barrage required, the EAC had asked.

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