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Loharinag Pala hydel power project, India


Loharinag Pala Hydro Power Project is a run-of-the-river hydroelectricity generating project planned by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Ltd to have an output capacity of 600 MW.

The main project construction contracts were awarded and construction started in 2006, however, work was stopped in 2009 after Professor G. D. Agrawal, one of Indias eminent scientists, came close to dying on the 38th day of his fast in protest of the blocking the headwaters of the sacred River Ganges. The project was officially scrapped in 2010. (1) Before that, after repeated refusal of the government to scrap the project, a group of activists — including local villagers, lawyers, NGOs, Hindu religious leaders and a member of the National Ganga River Basin Authority — started plotting out a protest campaign to stop Loharinag Pala hydel project. The protesters planned an indefinite hunger strike in Haridwar.The main argument was that the project will affect the flow of the Bhagirathi, which is a tributary of the Ganga, and that the project promoter NTPC violated environmental guidelines. They also felt that the Group of Ministers which made the recommendation to retain the project based on fiscal issues — Rs. 600 crore has already been spent on the project — had not taken into account these issues.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Loharinag Pala hydel power project, India
State or province:Uttarakhand
Location of conflict:Pala Villag, Block Bhatwari and District Uttarkashi.
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Specific commodities:Electricity

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The 600 MW dam (150 MW x 4 Units), being constructed by the NTPC Limited on the Bhagirathi near Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand.

The barrage site is next to NH 108 at Loharinag Temple. The Project has a mountainous catchment area of 3,316 square kilometres (1,280 sq mi), of which 1,849 square kilometres (714 sq mi) (56%) is covered in snow or glacier.

Project area:330
Level of Investment:407275000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2005
Company names or state enterprises:National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) from India
Relevant government actors:Government of Uttarakhand, District Forest Officer Uttarakashi
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:'Save Ganga', Peoples Science Institute, Matu Jan Sangathan, GD AGGARWAL, Environmentalist

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Social movements
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Hunger strikes and self immolation


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The 600 MW dam, being constructed by the NTPC Limited on the Bhagirathi near Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand, will be scrapped.
It has also been decided to declare the 135-km stretch between Gomukh and Uttarkashi as an eco-sensitive zone under the Environmental Protection Act and no development projects will be allowed in the zone.
Nevertheless, ejos are still mobilized in order to make sure that the project will never be relaunched by the government.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

International Rivers report Mountains of Concrete

Hydroelectric Power Stations in Indi: Loharinag Pala Hydro Power Project, Sidrapong Hydel Power Station, Hirakud Dam, Narmada Dam

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites


(1) Loharinag Pala hydel project to be scrapped

(2) Activists to oppose Loharinag Pala hydel project

Matu Jan Sangathan

International Rivers


Tehelka magazine

Indian Water Portal

The Economic Times

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Vimal Bhai speech, from Matu Jan Sangathan

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar patra
Last update08/04/2014



Dam site on the Bhagirathi river