Thursday, August 26, 2010

Government decides to scrap NTPC hydel project on Bhagirathi river

GoM decides to scrap NTPC hydel project on Bhagirathi river

NEW DELHI: Keeping religious sentiments and environmental concerns in
view, a Group of Ministers (GoM) on Friday scrapped the NTPC's
controversial 600 MW Loharinag Pala hydel project on Bhagirathi river in

Headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the GoM in a meeting made a
detailed re-examination of the project and recommended that the
hydro-power dam, the work on which had been under suspension for
sometime, should be scrapped.

"A technical panel would be set up to recommend specific safeguard
measures to be undertaken to protect the environment and to maintain the
fragile eco-geological balance in the area," said Union Power Minister
Sushilkumar Shinde, who is one of the members of the GoM.

The fate of the project had been hanging in balance for the last few
years with the government doing a flip-flop -- first deciding to suspend
the work and then partially resuming construction citing huge financial
cost given that it had already incurred Rs 700 crore on the project.

Two projects on Bhagirathi -- 480 MW Pala Maneri and 381 MW Bhairon
Ghati hydel projects proposed by the state government have already been
scrapped by the GoM.

Shinde said that in view of environmental concerns and after Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh asked the GoM to revisit the issue, it decided
to do away with the project on Bhagirathi river, a key tributary of the

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said, "earlier decision (to resume
work) was taken reluctantly and after the GoM revisited the decision, it
finally decided to scrap the proposed dam on the river to ensure its
free flow."

A large number of religious leaders had also been protesting against the
proposed dam, claiming that it will threaten the existence of the river
and block free flow of Ganga, which is considered holy by the Hindus.

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