MoEF asks GVK Power unit to follow norms

MoEF asks GVK Power unit to follow norms

New Delhi: The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has asked a GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd unit to explain why it hasn’t complied with environmental norms at a hydroelectric project in Uttarakhand.

A monitoring report on the Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd project shows that catchment area treatment, green belt work and afforestation have not yet commenced, said the letter, which has been reviewed by Mint.

The ministry also said that work to ensure the stability of slopes on the reservoir periphery, responsibility for which has been given to another firm, have not been completed.

Environmental clearance had been granted for the project in March 2006 based on the above conditions being met.

The ministry declined to comment. The firm’s spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

According to the monitoring report, the project at Srinagar in Pauri district is likely to be commissioned anytime between December 2011 and March 2012. That may be delayed if conditions aren’t met as work progresses, the ministry warned. It has sought a detailed compliance timetable in the next two weeks. The project is being undertaken by GVK Power and Infrastructure, which took over Alaknanda Hydro in 2005.

Hydro electric projects have come under the ministry’s scanner in the recent past as protests have intensified because of reasons including livelihood, religious sentiment and the free flow of rivers.

In March, MoEF shelved two hydroelectric projects on the Bhagirathi river due to widespread concerns that they would hinder its flow. The ministry has also taken up basin studies on the environmental impact of dams on rivers, including one on the Teesta in Sikkim. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh has suggested that such a study be conducted for the Alaknanda river basin, which has 37 hydroelectric projects planned and under construction.