Srinagar Hydroelectric Project on Alaknanda river, UK, India

The first order by National Green Tribunal in hydropower projects has finally come and held the GVK company responsible. The verdict proved that rapid dam construction is the major reason for 2013 disaster.


Description

The story behind the conflict at Srinagar hydro plant is one of communities, spiritual devotees, powerful goddess, courageous activists and incredible coincidences.

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Basic Data
NameSrinagar Hydroelectric Project on Alaknanda river, UK, India
CountryIndia
ProvincePauri Garhwal District, Uttarakhand
SiteShrinagar
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
REDD/CDM
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Water
Land
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsPower generation capacity installed: 330 MW

The project, which is 248 metres long, is 90 m high (from deepest foundation level) dam. It utilizes the net head of around 66 m between the diversion dam and the power house to generate electricity. The water conductor system consists of two head race tunnels, RCC troughs, power channel and penstocks.

The Power House accommodates four vertical turbines rated at 82.5 MW each. The water released from turbines will flow into river Alaknanda through a tail race channel.

As a project registered under the CDM, it says to contribute to reduce 1,204,120 metric tonnes CO2 equivalent per annum.
Level of Investment (in USD)820,000,000 (around 5000 crores IRN)
Type of PopulationRural
Company Names or State EnterprisesAlaknanda Hydro Power Co Ltd (AHPCL) from India
GVK Hydel Pvt. Ltd. from India
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Uttarakhand
International and Financial InstitutionsClean Development Mechanism Executive Board (CDM Executive Board)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMatu Jan Sangathan

Srinagar Bandh Aapda Sangharsh Samiti
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Social movements
Women
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationLand occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Defence of sacredness of the temple, threatened "death by drowing"
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Groundwater pollution or depletion
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Migration/displacement
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesSmall scale projects run by communities for their own needs.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Although the Supreme Court and High Court have not ruled in favour of activits' argumentations, MoEF has expressed important concerns and perplexities.

However, communities cannot be paid back what they lost in the heavy floods, nor compensated for the victims in their families. EJ can only be served if such projects are scrapped and size and purpose rediscussed with local communities for an integrated plan on the territory for energy generation and transmission.

Historical good news is that on 19th August 2016, first NGT verdict held GVK company responsible and proved that rapid dam construction is the major reason for 2013 disaster [see press release in Other Comments box]
Sources and Materials
References

Report of the Site Visit - MOEF
[click to view]

Links

Down to Earth - Government officials in expert panel on Uttarakhand disaster irk activists
[click to view]

Uttarakhand floods: NGT notice to Alaknanda Hydropower Company for damage to Srinagar town
[click to view]

CDM project design document
[click to view]

[1] SANDRP: How do they add to the disaster potential in Uttarakhand?
[click to view]

[2] Srinagar hydroelectric project: walls of desilting basin collapse
[click to view]

[3] Uttarakhand floods: NGT notice to Alaknanda Hydropower Company for damage to Srinagar town
[click to view]

[4] EJOLT blog - Himalayan Dams: goddamned!
[click to view]

Media Links

Map of HP in the Alaknanda and Bhaghirati basins
[click to view]

Other Documents

Srinagar HEP Source: http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2014/world/uttarakhands-furious-himalayan-flood-bury-indias-hydropower-program/
[click to view]

The new platform of the Dhari Goddness Source:
[click to view]

Other CommentsPress note 25th August 2016

GVK Company held responsible for June 2013 Disaster, fine rupees 9 crore.

Affected people Happy / Gave thanks to NGT/ Hope Government take action accordingly

On 19th august National Green Tribunal (NGT) after 18 hearings gave a historic verdict on the petition filed in august 2013 by Srinagar Bandh Aapda Sangharsh Samiti and Matu Jansangathan for the compensation against the destruction and damage caused during 2013 disaster because of srinagar dam constructed over Alaknanda river by GVK company Uttrakhand. Hon’ble Justice U.D Salvi, judicial member and Hon’ble Prof. A.R. Yousuf , expert member held GVK company responsible for 2013 disaster and ordered to compensate the affected people with rupees 9,26,42,795 Rs. and 1 lakh per petitionor.

Srinagar Bandh Aapda Sangharsh Samiti and Matu Jansangathan welcomes NGT’s pro people order. This verdict proved that rapid dam construction is the major reason for 2013 disaster. Matu Jansangathan raised voice on the role of dams in 2013 disaster at every level including parliament, legislation and famous politicians but unfortunately nobody uttered a word. Now after NGT’s order political parties will control such dam companies who abuses people’s right. This is ever first order by NGT in the Hydro Power Projects. It will give a new way to the Hydro Power Project affected people.

Oprative part of NGT’s order :-

1. Respondent no.1- Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd. shall deposit an amount of Rs 26,42,795/- by way of compensation to the victims of the June, 2013 floods in city of Srinagar with the Environmental Relief Fund Authority established under Section 7 (a) of Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 within a period of 30 days from the date of this order.

2. Amount of Court fee payable i.e. 1% of the amount of compensation awarded shall be deducted from the said deposited amount and remitted to the Registrar, National Green Tribunal as per Rule 12 of the National Green Tribunal (Practise and Procedure) Rules, 2011.

3. The respondent no. 3- State of Uttarakhand shall issue necessary directions to the District Magistrate of District Pauri to depute any senior Sub-Divisional Magistrate to call for the claims from the persons as per list annexed as annexure A-5 with necessary proof in support of their claims. The SDM so deputed shall verify the claims made in light of the proofs produced and remit the amount due to such person/s after deduction therefrom the proportionate 1% amount of Court fees payable as per list annexure A-5 on finding the claim to be meritorious. Claims shall be called by publishing a notice, therefor in the office of the District Collector, Srinagar Municipal Corporation and on the website of the State of Uttarakhand. No Claim filed after 90 days of publication of such notice shall be entertained by the District Magistrate. Balance amount remaining in environment relief fund after disbursement of the amount as aforesaid shall be utilised for taking such measures for restoration of the public property affected by the floods.

4. Respondent no.1 shall pay an amount of Rs. 1 lakh each to the applicants as well as the respondent no. 4 as and by way of cost.

5. Original Application no. 3 of 2014 thus stands disposed of.

The tribunal in its 42 pages order has briefly explained that GVK company has regularly violated the environmental norms which has resulted in flood and devastation of muck. Various reports have also pointed out that walls protecting muck should be built , also plantation and wire fencing should be done around the muck. The muck though put around the river way back but still no plantation has been carried out yet. Tribunal also went through the Ravi Chopra Committee’s report which was constituted by MOEFCC under the dircetion of Hon’ble Supreme Court of india , the committee has also inspected the area. The tribunal also denied to accept the arguments put forwarded by Dam company that the area comes under flood affected area. Since the State Government has not defined a flood area, therefore what happened in the area was a natural calamity.

Putting forward his argument, the Uttarakhand State public prosecutor first tried to prove that the matter should not be taken into cognizance of court because what happened was a "Act of God" and not negligence on the part of state government or GVK company. The tribunal in its para 19 of the order has said that state government has not been able to deny the argument which held responsible the GVK company for disaster.

We are highly obliged to our advocates, Ritwik Dutta and Rahul Chaudhary who took up this case without charging any fee. We are also grateful to Dr. Bharat Jhunjhunwala , the plaintiff who provided all facts pertaining to environmental conditions violated by GVK company to the tribunal.

Thus we demands:

---According to order issued by NGT, Uttrakhand state government authority to instruct District Magistrate of Pouri district that the issue of allocation of compensation should be done without corruption.

---When it was proved that GVK Company is responsible for the flood in a particular area of Srinagar then the administration should also take appropriate action and initiate criminal proceedings against it. The GVK Company should be penalized for the offenses committed knowingly to make them alert in the future.

As the judiciary performed its duty likewise the state administration should also take the same route to ensure justice to the people affected.

WE FOUGHT, WE WON!!

Prem Ballabh Kala, Vijaylaxmi Ratudi, Chandramohan Bhatt, Nirmala Noutiyal, Vimal Bhai.
Meta Information
ContributorDaniela Del Bene, ICTA-UAB Contact: [email protected]
Last update25/08/2016
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