NEW Delhi: Bhagirathi, one of the key tributaries of the Ganga, will now flow untamed and unchecked through the year for at least part of its stretch. In a decision that shows heightened sensitivity towards the environment and which may have consequences for other hydroelectric projects, the government has decided not to proceed with two projects – the 381-megawatt Bhaironghati and 480MW Pala-Maneri hydroelectric plants – planned on the river that originates at Gaumukh.
There are indications that even the ongoing 600MW project at Loharinag-Pala may be shut down, with the government analysing the environmental costs of discontinuing work on the mega dam. Some infrastructure has already been put in place, and its impact on the environment if it’s simply left there will have to be considered.
The decision, taken recently by a three-member group set up by the Prime Minister, was prompted by religio-political and environmental considerations, and marks a big shift from the days when the government would disregard dissent on dams.
The group was led by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and comprising ministers for power and environment, Sushil Shinde and Jairam Ramesh respectively.
The group has, in fact, decided to turn the entire 55-km stretch from Gaumukh to Loharinag-Pala as an eco-sensitive zone; in other words, a “no-go” area for dams.
(Courtesy: Times of India)