Hydropower firm asked to stop work after breaking environmental lawsNovember 3rd, 2008 - 2:24 pm ICT by IANS
Shimla, Nov 3 (IANS) A hydropower firm has been asked to stop construction work on their power project in Himachal Pradesh for violating environmental laws, officials said Monday. Om Power Corporation is executing a 15 MW power project near Palampur town in Kangra district and will be allowed to resume work only after they take corrective measures.
“A team of the forest department visited the construction site and found that the company is violating environment laws - from haphazard cutting of hills, damaging trees to unscientific dumping of debris in areas close to water channels,” Divisional Forest Officer A.S. Baniyal told IANS.
“We are assessing the total damage caused to the environment and a fine would be imposed on the company so that such violations don’t recur in future,” he said.
The firm has also been told to stop all excavation, digging and construction activities until steps are taken to check further damage.
“We will not allow the company to start the project until it prepares a plan to protect the ecology,” Baniyal added.
“Most of the hydro projects are violating environment laws, but the government is adopting a pick-and-choose policy to take action. It reacts only when there is a protest by local communities,” a forest department official said on condition of anonymity.
The hill state has abundant water resources, with five major rivers flowing from the western Himalayas.
Its power generation potential is 20,415 MW, about 25 percent of India’s total hydropower potential, out of which only 6,150 MW has been tapped so far.
In 2006, the state government approved a hydropower policy that aims to make Himachal Pradesh the ‘hydropower state’ of India.
The government has allotted hundreds of micro and major run-of-river hydro projects.
Local entrepreneurs are being encouraged to take up projects of between 2 MW and 5 MW generation capacity. The state government has allotted projects above 5 MW through open bidding.
The Asian Development Bank last month announced it would provide Himachal Pradesh a $800 million loan for projects that will add 808 MW in all.