Environmental Justice in Himachal Pradesh, India

Description

Himachal Pradesh is a Himalayan state in the North-West of India and is known for its good performance in social and economic development indicators in the country. A state where the government seems to have 'delivered' in areas of education, health and other basic services. The region is also celebrated for its landscape- as the abode of snow and rivers that have always rendered the state a distinct identity. The lifelines of the region - Ravi, Sutlej, Chenab, Beas and Yamuna, the five river basins have sustained this mountainous frontier socially and culturally for centuries. Even today, the scenario seems somewhat idyllic and ideal - with a semblance of balance, with the State government being a good provider of welfare services and the mountain people co-existing peacefully with the landscape. However, a closer look reveals, that like in the rest of the country, there is a crisis in the making here. This crisis is unfolding as an environmental, social and economic one and is directly linked to a development model based on unbridled exploitation of natural resources for economic growth. And the impacts, considering the ecological fragility of the region could be devastating if the issues remain hidden and unaddressed. This featured map of the state, is an attempt to reveal some of the locations in Himachal where these impacts are being felt and where there has been some local response or conflict as a result of the projects undertaken in the name of 'development'. While in the initial years (after the statehood in 1970), Himachal Pradesh's state government evolved a model of development (ongoing) based on promotion and diversification of agriculture, horticulture and tourism based livelihoods, in the last two decades, the state's economy has undergone a shift, stressing on generation of renewables, mainly hydropower, industrial development, mining and development of large scale infrastructure projects to facilitate commercial growth especially for the private players. In 2000, the state announced its commitment to become the “green state” of India, through fostering so-called renewable energy, clean industries, sustainable tourism models and other progressive policies. What on paper seemed like the ideal model turned out to be more of green-washing with an agenda for growth promotion.

Infact, the XII Five Year plan (2012-17) indicates hydropower as one of the energy pillars to sustain a “Faster, Sustainable and More Inclusive Growth” and in maximizing the share of renewables. The plan estimates hydro potential in India at about 149 GW including small hydro plants(less than 25 MW capacity), which makes “only the 32% of total potential”. And it finally identifies major part of the unexploited potential located in the North-East and Himalayan regions. The hydro potential in Himachal Pradesh has been recently assessed to be around 27,000MW in the state’s five river basins. Out of these, 9213MW have been already harnessed by private, central (Government of India) and state sector (Government of Himachal Pradesh). Most of them are planned under the run-of-the-river (RoR) scheme. RoR schemes entail water being captured at one spot, diverted into penstock pipes and finally released through turbines at the generation plant, at a lower elevation. Water therefore runs into tunnels inside the mountains and the rate and intensity of blasting has reached a point of severe social and environmental concern. Groundwater sources get depleted and often dry out completely, leaving entire villages without any drop. Moreover, road construction and land slides, seismic risk, diversion of forests, exploitation of migrant labour and poor working conditions, along with the disruption of local communities are other key ingredients of the Himalayan hydro boom. Nonetheless, the state government is blindly continuing with tapping the remaining potential quickly, through large, medium size and small hydropower projects. Be it drying up of large stretches of river and natural water sources, damages to houses due to intensive blasting, loss of crop, massive deforestation- all these stand ignored but the state government is undeterred and has gone forward to declare hydropower generation as future mainstay for its revenue generation. Moreover, the opening up of the sector to private and mixed (public-private) actors have further pushed for damming and diverting Himalayan rivers, as described by Dharmadhikary in his 2008 report “Mountains of Concrete” and "Global Finance" of 2002 by International Rivers, Urgewald and SANDRP.

Apart from the large scale hydropower construction, limestone mining and cement plants have emerged as another area of concern vis a vis its risks on local ecosystems and livelihoods. The severe environmental and health impacts for local people around the plants and mines are hardly a cause of concern for the government. Because of its vast limestone deposits, the state of Himachal Pradesh has over the last 20years attracted several private players like Jaypee,ACC, Ambuja, CCI, Aditya-Birla and Lafarge. Limestone accounts for 75% of the value of mineral production in the state. The boom in the real estate market and infrastructure development after 2002 has motivated cement companies to tap the Northern region’s increasing demand for cement, thus accelerating limestone mining and cement manufacture in the state. Apart from Limestone mining, stone quarrying has been another serious issue plaguing the state especially in areas like Nalagarh and Solan.

The 900 crore greenfield cement plant by French Multinational company Lafarge at Alsindi is a case in point. In 2003, the Bharatiya Janata Party, then in power, as a promise to boom the state's industrial capacity, announced industrial subsidy packages to attract investors. The Lafarge Cement plant was proposed shortly after that but remains at the centre of controversy since day one. The project's future currently hangs in balance as the local affected community took in their hands the responsibility of questioning its feasibility; its sheer magnitude, extent of mining involved and diversion of forest and private land in and around the project area. The local communities even went ahead and launched a legal battle. The cases of other disastrous units such as Jaypee where those living around the plant suffered with respiratory ailments was fundamental in shaping people's responses against Lafarge in Alsindi village.

Though most hydropower and industrial projects in the state have posed some or the other kind of socio- environmental risks, however only in few strong local opposition was registered. This featured map, developed by the EJAtlas team shows the main socio-environmental conflicts in the state in the last 10 years around these projects. It identifies one conflict over a tourist project- the $ 300 million dollars worth Himalayan Ski Village, planned by the Ford family, two conflicts over cement plants by the French corporation Lafarge and the Indian giant Jaypee, and 16 conflicts over hydro plants across the five river basins, including the small hydro plants of Hul I&II.

Geographical information has been later added for visualizing extra information. Some more of the planned, under construction and commissioned hydropower plants are indicated with the red dots, warning about the pace of hydropower expansion in this Himalayan frontier. Here, hydro projects are geo located at the point of construction of the water diversion dam, but they should be understood as “connected dots” as water runs inside the tunnels dug in the mountains, aggravating the impacts of such mega infrastructure. Please note that some more could not be located so they don’t appear on the map. Furthermore, small plants below 25MW do not display either but they too have come up in hundreds especially on the smaller tributaries. Additional GIS data further helps visualize the main 5 river bodies of Himachal Pradesh plus the Spiti river and the main features for each basin, the level of water stress in the Himalayan region, the state's districts with high population of “Scheduled Tribes” (tribal communities), the location of urban centres, and the snow covered areas for most times of the year. All information is being collected through official documents and reports, reports and articles by organizations and independent analysts like SANDRP and International Rivers, documentation obtained by Himdhara, a local environment action group, through the Right to Information Act and cross-checked with on-the-ground work and substantiated with interviews, newspapers articles and direct observations.

The authors are grateful to the Fundaciò Autonoma Solidaria of the Autonomous University of Barcelona for partly funding the research and technical work behind the map.

EJAtlas team: Daniela Del Bene, Lucia Arguelles, Yakup Cetink

Legend
Cases

Allain Duhangan Hydropower project, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Allain Duhangan Hydropower project, India
Site: Prini village (closed to Manali town)
Start Date: 2008
Project Status: In operation
Companies: Allain Duhangan Power Company Limited [] (India):Allain Duhangan Power Company Limited (ADPCL) is jointly owned by Rajasthan Spinning & Weaving Mills Limited (RSWM), HEG Limited (HEG) and Malana Power Company Limited (MPCL). These sponsor companies are part of the LNJ Bhilwara (LNJ) group having a 45% stake in the project. The IFC (International Finance Corporation) owns 12% and has contributed around $45m to the project, while SN Power has a 43% indirect ownership. [4] Bhilwara Energy Limited [] (India):The Allain Duhangan Hydro Project Limited (ADHPL) is a subsidiary of Malana Power Company Limited, a joint venture between Bhilwara Energy Limited and Norway’s SN Power. Malana Power Company Limited [] (India):The Allain Duhangan Hydro Project Limited (ADHPL) is a subsidiary of Malana Power Company Limited, a joint venture between Bhilwara Energy Limited and Norway’s SN Power. AECOM [] (Canada):Consultancy service Rajasthan Spinning & Weaving Mills Limited [] (India):Allain Duhangan Power Company Limited (ADPCL) is jointly owned by Rajasthan Spinning & Weaving Mills Limited (RSWM), HEG Limited (HEG) and Malana Power Company Limited (MPCL). Sn Power [] (Norway):

Bajoli Holi Hydroelectric dam, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Bajoli Holi Hydroelectric dam, HP, India
Site: Between Bajoli and Nayagram village and about 15 km upstream of Holi town, Chamba district
Project Area: 76,000 [3] catchment area
Start Date: 2008
Project Status: Under construction
Companies: GMR Bajoli Holi Hydropower Private Limited [GBHHPL] (India):Developer of the plant GMR Group [GMR] (India) GMR Energy Ltd [] (India)

Baspa II Hydroelectric Project, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Baspa II Hydroelectric Project, HP, India
Site: Close to Sangla town, Kinnaur district
Project Status: In operation
Companies: Jaiprakash Power Ventures Limited [JPVL] (India) Jaypee Group [] (India) JSW Energy Limited [JSWEL] (India)

Bhakra Nangal Project, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Bhakra Nangal Project, India
Site: Bhakra village (now submerged) in Bilaspur district
Project Area: 17000
Start Date: 1970
Project Status: In operation
Companies: Bhakra
Beas
Management
Board
(India):
http://bbmb.gov.in/english/menu1.asp

Himalayan Ski Village, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Himalayan Ski Village, HP, India
Site: Palchan, Manali, District Kullu
Project Area: 2,500
Start Date: 2005
Project Status: Proposed (exploration phase)

Hul 1&2 small hydropower projects, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Hull 1&2 small hydropower projects, HP, India
Site: Saal valley, Chamba district
Start Date: 2003
Project Status: Proposed (exploration phase)
Companies: Hul Hydro Power Private Limited [] (India):Developer First Climate [] (Germany):Investment consultant First Climate (India) Private Limited [] (India):Investment consultant M/S Astha Project [] (India): M/S First Hydro Generation Private Limited [] (India):

Jaypee Cement Plant in HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Jaypee Cement Plant in HP, India
Site: village Bagheri, Tehsil Nalagarh, District Solan
Project Area: 26,3
Start Date: 2009
Project Status: Planned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Companies: Jaypee Group [] (India) Jai Parkash Associates Ltd [] (India):Jaiprakash is the third-largest cement player in the country with a 27.8 million tonnes per annum capacity. Its Himachal units include a 2 million tonnes cement plant and another 2 million tonnes grinding unit, both in the Solan district. Jaypee Himachal Cement Grinding & Blending Plant was commissioned in 2010 and enjoys excise benefits.

Karchham-Wangtoo hydel project, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Karchham-Wangtoo Project and its transmission line, HP, India
Site: between Karcham and Wangtoo villages
Project Status: In operation
Companies: Jaypee Karcham Hydro Corporation Ltd. [] (India): Jaypee Group [] (India) Jaypee Powergrid Limited [] (India): Power Grid Corporation of India Limited [POWERGRID] (India): Andritz Group [] (Austria)

Integrated Kashang Hydroelectricity Project, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Integrated Kashang Hydroelectricity Project, HP, India
Site: Morang Tehsil
Project Area: 85.7356
Project Status: Planned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Companies: Hindustan Construction Co. Ltd [HCC] (India) Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited [HPPCL] (India) Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Limited [HPSEB] (India): Himalayan Forest Research Institute, Shimla [HFRI] (India):Preparation of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Report

Kol Dam Hydropower Project, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Koldam Dam Hydropower Project, HP, India
Site: Barmana on the Chandigarh-Manali Highway ( NH-21 ) and the border of Bilaspur district and Mandi district
Project Status: Under construction
Companies: National
Thermal
Power
Corporation
[NTPC]
(India)
Italian-Thai
Development
Public
Company
Limited
[Italthai]
(Thailand):Contractor
for
“Main
Civil
Works
Package
I
:
Dam,
Spillway
&
Power
Intake
Package
Bharat
Heavy
Electricals
Limited
[BHEL]
(India):http://www.indiainfoline.com/article/news-top-story/bhel-adds-736-mw-hydro-electric-capacity-in-2014-15-115052500094_1.html

Kuther Hydroelectric Project, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Kuther Hydroelectric Project, HP, India
Site: village Holi, Tehsil Bharmour, district Chamba
Project Area: 83,000
Start Date: 5325
Project Status: Planned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Companies: JSW Energy Limited [JSWEL] (India)

Greenfield Cement Plant by Lafarge, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Greenfield Cement Plant by Lafarge, HP, India
Site: Alsindi, Tehsil Karsog, District Mandi
Project Area: 361,99
Start Date: 2006
Project Status: Planned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Companies: Lafarge [] (France) Lafarge India Private Limited [LIPL] (India):

Luhri Hydro project on Sutlej river, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Luhri Hydro project on Sutlej river, HP, India
Start Date: 2010
Project Status: Planned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Companies: Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited [SJVN] (India):

Nakthan Hydroelectricity Project, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Nakthan Hydroelectricity Project, HP, India
Site: Barshaini Village, District Kullu
Project Area: 90,07
Project Status: Planned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Companies: Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited [HPPCL] (India):Project Developer

Nathpa Jhakri Hydroelectric Project, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Nathpa Jhakri Hydroelectric Project, HP, India
Site: Nathpa village, Kinnaur district
Start Date: 1999
Project Status: In operation
Companies: ABB Kraftwerk [] (Switzerland):Supplier of the rotary components of the generators and the cabling and safety systems. Siemens [] (Germany) Continental Construction Corp Ltd [] (India): Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited [SJVN] (India) Foundation Corporation of Canada [] (Canada):Construction work with Impregilo Salini-Impregilo [] (Italy):Construction work with Foundation Corporation of Canada Alstom [] (France):GEC Alsthom's Power Transmission and Distribution Division (T&D) won the order worth $55 million to supply and install India's largest gas insulated substation at Nathpa Jhakri. Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited [BHEL] (India) Hindustan Construction Co. Ltd [HCC] (India)

Rampur Hydroelectric Project, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Rampur Hydroelectric Project, HP, India
Site: Bayal (or Bael, close to Rampur)
Project Area: 81
Start Date: 2004
Project Status: In operation
Companies: Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited [SJVN] (India)

Renuka Dam Project, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Renuka Dam Project, HP, India
Site: Dadahu
Project Area: 1,600 (land submerged)
Start Date: 2009
Project Status: Planned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Companies: Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited [HPPCL] (India): Patel Engineering [] (India)

Sawra-Kuddu hydroelectric project, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Sawra-Kuddu hydroelectric project, HP, India
Site: dam site at Jubbal, Shimla district
Project Area: 98 ha acquired or diverted (private and forest land)
Project Status: Under construction
Companies: Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited [HPPCL] (India) Patel Engineering [] (India):HPPC awarded a contract to Patel Engineering Ltd. of India in 2009 for civil work, gates, and hoisting equipment Andritz Group [] (Austria): Andritz Hydro supplied electro-mechanical equipment

Seli Hydroelectricity Project, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Seli Hydroelectricity Project, HP, India
Site: Shulling village, Udaipur town, District Lahaul-Spiti
Project Area: 320
Companies: Hindustan Power Projects Private Limited [HPPPCL] (India)

Jispa Hydroelectricity Project, HP, India    Himachal Pradesh
Name: Jispa Hydroelectricity Project, HP, India
Site: Jispa, Lahaul-Spiti
Project Area: 1,635
Project Status: Proposed (exploration phase)
Companies: Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited [HPPCL] (India)

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