Hydropower firm penalised for violating environmental laws

November 21st, 2008 - 2:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Nov 21 (IANS) A hydropower firm in Himachal Pradesh has been penalised for violating environmental laws, the government said Friday.Om Power Corp, that is executing a 15-MW hydropower project near Palampur town in Kangra district, has been fined Rs.6.4 million after being found violating green norms.

“Om Power Corp has been asked to deposit Rs.64 lakh (Rs.6.4 million) for violating environment norms while executing the project. We will not allow the company to resume work till it takes corrective measures,” Forest Minister J.P. Nadda told IANS.

“The company has violated environment laws - from haphazard cutting of hills, damaging trees to unscientific dumping of debris in areas close to water channels,” he added.

A forest department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said most hydropower 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,” the official said.

The hill state has abundant water resources. 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. Since then, it has sanctioned a slew of hydro projects.

Local entrepreneurs are being encouraged to take up projects of between 2 MW and 5 MW generation capacity. Those above 5 MW are being allotted after open bidding.

The Asian Development Bank last month announced it would provide Himachal Pradesh $800 million as loan for projects that together will add 808 MW.

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