Seli Hydroelectricity Project, HP, India

Hydropower in one of the most ecologically fragile regions of the Himalayas; conceptualizing a hydropower project in a seismically active, high altitude and an avalanche prone zone is a recipe for disaster


The 400 MW Seli hydroelectricity project is a Run-of-the-river project proposed on the Chenab River in District Lahaul-Spiti of Himachal Pradesh. Chenab river basin is one among the major five river basins of the state, and also the least exploited in terms of hydropower development. Out of 27,400 MW- the total identified potential of Himachal Pradesh, the Chenab basin holds about 4,032 MW. In the high altitude zone of Lahaul and Spiti, the HP government has allotted 32 hydroelectricity projects- the 400 MW Seli being one of them.

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Basic Data
NameSeli Hydroelectricity Project, HP, India
ProvinceHimachal Pradesh
SiteShulling village, Udaipur town, District Lahaul-Spiti
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
Land acquisition conflicts
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe 400 MW Seli hydroelectricity project is a Run-of-the-river project proposed on the Chenab river in Shulling village, District Lahaul-Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. The project envisages the construction of 80 m high concrete gravity dam. The catchment area of the project is 6,033 sq. km from the river bed level. The proposed project would have two head race tunnels- of 4.17 km and 4.25 km, respectively. An underground power house is proposed on the right bank of Chenab river near Gugal nallah, close to Kurched village. The other project components include the surge shaft, pen stock, power-house tail race channel, and four units each of 100 MW capacity.
Project Area (in hectares)320
Level of Investment (in USD)INR 2891.97 Crores
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population93 families to be directly impacted
Start Date2010
Company Names or State EnterprisesHindustan Power Projects Private Limited (HPPPCL) from India
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Expert Appraisal Committee, Forest Advisory Committee, Department of Forest, GoHP, District Administration L&S
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSeli Project Sangarsh Samiti, Village Madgran, Lahaul-Spiti

Gramin Yuva Sangathan, Village Madgran, Lahaul- Spiti

Mahila Mandal and Yuva Mandal- Koraki, Salpat, Namu, Ratoli, Charu, Aahat

Jispa Bandh Roko Samiti

Jispa Darcha Jan Sangarsh Samiti
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBoycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseUnder negotiation
Development of AlternativesThe local activists and environmental groups continue to maintain "why displacement for development?" stance. Currently, an alternative coming out from groups such as Jispa Darcha Sangarsh Samiti (against 300 MW Jispa) is to develop hydroprojects in areas of the valley where exists no habitation. Another alternative being forwarded is to develop small and micro hydropower projects which are perceived as less socially and ecologically harming.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Locals environment groups claim that the project proponents have been employing strategies to initiate the process of land acquisition. Though the land acquisition process carried out under the land old acquisition was challenged by local ejo's, but it did not result in any substantial action. Much will depend on the Stage II forest clearance which is as of now pending with the state government. However, the local ejo's continue to highlight regular violations mainly of Forest Rights Act and PESA 1996.
Sources and Materials

Forest Rights Act 2006

Panchayat Extension to Schedule Areas Act (PESA) 1996


Changing the Colours of Chenab- Narratives on Hydropower 'development' from the Lahaul Valley. of A Report on Hydropower development scenario compiled by Himdhara, Environment Research and Action Collective
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Tribals to bar entry of Seli hydro project officials in Himachal Pradesh
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Green activists oppose hydro-power projects in Himachal Pradesh
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Report on Chenab release
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Forest Minister writes to Centre against Seli power project
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37 hydropower projects allotted in Himachal hills
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Himachal people oppose plunder and degradation of natural resources
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Depleting water sources in Himachal worry locals
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Sheli Hydel Project: Villagers to protest forceful land acquisition
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Sheli project to be ecological disaster: forest report
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Petition to Prime Minister of India: Save 2 Lakh GreenTrees in Lahaul Spiti by Seli Project Sangarsh Samiti
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Other Documents

A poster from 2012 by Local environment groups calling for a District Bandh on 5th June- the World Environment Day
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Photo by Seli Project Sangarsh Samiti, Madgran
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Photo by Seli Project Sangarsh Samiti, Madgran
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Seli Project Power house site Seli project's power house site on the right bank of Chenab river near Gugal Nallah (stream)
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Meta Information
ContributorDaniela Del Bene, ICTA-UAB ([email protected])
Last update19/11/2015