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Power firms flout water discharge norms

Himachal Pradesh Assembly’s standing committee on IPH has found hydro-power companies,both in the public and private sectors,defying mandatory provisions of the power policy regarding the maintenance of a minimum water discharge of 15 per cent in the rivers.

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Shimla |
September 2, 2011 3:53:33 am

Himachal House panel reccomends action against the companies for failing to ensure minimum prescribed flow of water

The Himachal Pradesh Assembly’s standing committee on Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) has found hydro-power companies — both in the public and private sectors — defying mandatory provisions of the power policy regarding the maintenance of a minimum water discharge of 15 per cent in the rivers.

The committee,in its report that was tabled in the House this week,has recommended penal action against the companies for their failure to ensure minimum prescribed flow of water,which has severely affected the ecology,water needs of the people and aqua life in the downstream areas.

Des Raj,a BJP MLA and committee chairman directed the department and other agencies to intervene and ensure that hydel power producers maintain a minimum flow of water in river.

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The observations of the committee endorses a study conducted by a high-level committee headed by former additional chief secretary (Forests) Avay Shukla,who was asked by the high court to submit a report on environment damages caused by hydro-powers projects.

The committee had raised apprehensions about drying up of major rivers like Ravi,Beas and Satluj due to diversion of water and inability of government agencies to enforce the clause about minimum 15 per cent discharge. “More than 70 km of Ravi river will disappear,as the government has failed to ensure a riparian distance between one project to another,” the report stated.

When asked,S K Singhla,Member-Secretary of Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board,said: “The problem is limited to those projects,which have already been commissioned. Some of these promoters have gone to the high court to challenge the clause pertaining to minimum discharge. The rule is being implemented strictly in new projects. Regular monitoring is being conducted.”

The standing committee,however,has asserted on the right to the IPH department to ensure conservation and management of water resources in the state. “The adverse affects of these hydro-power projects on culture,livelihood,lifestyle and local environment should be made part of the project planning,” the report stated.

It had also expressed the need for upgradation of security measures for dams and asked the government to enact a legislation based on state’s water policy,which will cover all broader aspects regarding planning,construction,designs and construction of dams.

Referring to issues like drinking water supplies,the committee in its report has stated: “All those sources that have been tapped for drinking water supplies are polluted with untreated,inadequately treated industrial effluent affecting the quality of water. There is a need to post a IPH department representative in the State Pollution Control Board and strictly enforce the clause where a pollutor has to pay up for violating norms.”

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