Uttarakhand Aftermath: GoI orders impact assessment of hydropower projects in JK

MUDDASIR ALI

Srinagar, Nov 17: In a significant development, the Government of India has asked the state government to study the impact of setting up of hydropower projects on all river basins in Jammu and Kashmir. The study was ordered by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) after the devastating flashfloods in Uttarakhand earlier this year, which caused massive loss of lives and property, were understood to be the consequence of establishment of “excessive” hydropower projects in the State.
Named as “Integrated Basin Study” (IBS), the study, to be conducted on all major river basins—Jhelum, Chenab and Sindh—would also bring to fore the changes that have taken place in the environment due to the setting up of these projects, an official said.
The MoFE has asked the State Government to complete the study in two years which would be used for developing a blueprint for setting up power projects in future.
A director-rank official of MoEF, BB Barman, arrived here Saturday to hold discussions with the State Power Development Corporation (PDC) authorities in this regard.
The Corporation’s Executive Director Zahoor Ahmad Chat said the study would give a clear picture about the number of projects a particular basin can sustain without affecting the biodiversity.
At present, there are more than 26 power projects operational on all river basins in J&K. The hydropower projects generate energy by exploitation of water stored in large capacity dams.
In the State sector, six power projects are operational on Jhelum river basin with a capacity of 250 MW. On Chenab basin, five power projects have a generation capacity of 483 MW while as eight power projects installed on the Indus basin have a generation capacity of 14 MW.
The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation owns four power projects in the central sector on different basins have the generation capacity of 1680 MW while as the Corporation has also completed the construction of two power projects in Ladakh with installed capacity of over 70 MW.
Besides, power projects worth 3000 MW are being set up in the State and central sector in joint ventures between PDC and NHPC on these basins.
Chat said the study would be a Master Plan for the Government for developing projects in future and each upcoming project would be supported by the basin study.
The rough estimates suggest that J&K has hydropower potential of around 20000 MW with Chenab basin having the maximum potential.
Earlier this year a major earthquake caused severe devastation to the property in the Doda and Kishtwar districts in Chenab Valley of Jammu region.
The Chenab River flows through Doda-Kishtwar-Ramban districts and over the years a number of hydropower projects with 870-MW generation capacity have been installed on it. Two power projects, 450 MW-Baglihar-I and 390-MW Dulhasti, have large capacity dams built on Chenab for power generation.
Besides, another three power projects–Kiru, Kawar, and Pakal Dul–having capacity of 2100 MW have been planned on the Chenab basin in joint venture between PDC and NHPC.
Following the Doda quake there were media reports that the hydropower projects on the Chenab basin were allegedly the reason for frequent earthquakes there.
“These are only reports without a backing of any scientific study,” said a senior official in the PDC, when asked about the reports suggesting relation between earth quakes and hydropower projects.
However he admitted that the Uttarakhand experience has forced the Government of India to go for the study in all the states rich in hydropower resources.
There are 51 hydropower projects with generation capacity of 4000 MW operational in Uttarakhand which saw thousands of people getting killed in the June flashfloods.

Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Nov 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Nov 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Nov 2013 00:00:00 IST




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