Monday, January 28, 2013


REJECT ENVIRONMENT CLEARANCE FOR LUHRI HEP: 
Over 50 groups wrtie to MoEF

Over 50 groups individual and groups from all over have written to the Union Minister of state of Environment and Forests Smt Jayanthi Natarajan, Secertary MoEF and members of the Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects, urging them to reject the Environment Clearance for the 775 MW Luhri hydropower project on Sutlej river in Himachal Pradesh. The letter has been endorsed by over 50 individuals and groups from 15 states all over India, including prominent organisations like the Kalpavriksh, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad, Bharat Jan Andolan, National Alliance of People's Movements, All India Forum of Forest People, People's Science Institute, Save Rivers Campaign of Uttarakhand, Matu Jan Sangathan, River Research Centre, River Basin Organisation, People's Union of Democratic Rights, Socialist Party, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha, Nature Conservation Foundation and ATREE. The letter has been endorsed by two of the former secretaries of Govt of India, a former ambassador, well known columnist, environmentalists, among others. 

The Luhri project will have the world's longest tunnel (38.14 km), bypassing last 50 km stretch of flowing Sutlej river, in addition to submerging 6.8 km of the river in the reservoir. This is the last stretch of the mighty Sutlej river that is still flowing, in an otherwise over developed river basin. Forgetting its own norms the Expert Appraisal Committee on RVP did not even note that there is zero distance of flowing river between upstream Rampur and Luhri upstream of the project. Similarly there is zero distance of flowing river between downstream Kol dam and Lurhi project, downstream of the project. This is against the recommendation of at least 5 km of flowing river between any two projects by the Himachal High Court appointed committee headed by former additional Chief Secretary of Himachal Pradesh Avay Shukla. Even the EAC has been following the norm of 1 km between two projects, which is highly inadequate, but the EAC has not followed it in this case, the letter says. 

The letter notes that the overdeveloped Sutlej river basin does not have any credible cumulative impact assessment including carrying capacity of the basin from various aspects. Without such an assessment, it is not even possible to know if the large number of projects in the basin are viable or sustainable, as even directed by the Supreme Court in its 2006 order. The project has seen violations of several norms from the stage when it applied for the Terms of Reference in 2007 to when the Expert Appraisal Committee recommended clearance to the project in Nov 2012, the letter highlights. 

Another letter, endorsed by the same groups, on similar lines have been sent to the EAC, asking it to reconsider its decision on the project. The Environment Impact Assessment of the project has been so shoddy that even the EAC noted it is meeting that the EIA is inadequate and the EIA consultant has submitted poor quality material. The letter notes that in spite of this and even as the public hearings of the report had seen numerous violations and the government officials have been manipulating processes to bring pressure on the gram sabhas to give their consent for the project, the EAC recommended clearance to the project without resolving the issues raised by the EAC. This is completely against people, environment and legal norms and the EAC should immediately review the decision and reject the environment clearance to the project. 

The letter and the annexures send to the MoEF and EAC are attached. 

Himanshu Thakkar 
For SANDRP

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