On Nov. 4, Supreme Court of India (SSC) justices ordered the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) to submit environmental impact studies on existing hydro projects and studies on planned hydro projects in Uttarakhand, India.
Uttarakhand is a state divided into two divisions – Garhwal and Kumaon – with a total of 13 districts populated by 10 million, located in the Himalayan Mountains of northern India. The region suffered enormous monsoon rains August 2013 that caused catastrophic flooding. Published reports indicate about 6,000 people were killed during the event that saw the worst flooding Uttarakhand had experienced since the 1920s.
Later in the same month, SSC stayed hydro-related development and deforestation in Uttarakhand. The court ordered MoEF to provide detailed environmental impact studies of existing and planned hydro projects because of outrage by Uttarakhand residents about the flooding.
According to SSC documents, the reports were due to the court in August 2014, but MoEF has yet to provide the court with documentation.
The Nov. 4 court action affects several on-going hydro projects in Uttarakhand, including the following notable endeavors listed by SSC:
330-MW Shrinagar hydro electric project
GVK Power & Infrastructure Ltd. has commissioned development of the 330-MW Shrinagar hydroelectric project on the Alaknanda River near Shrinagar in the Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. The plant is a run-of-river project and it has a 90-meter-high dam. A power purchase agreement has been signed with the state of Uttar Pradesh. Uttarakhand will receive 12% of the dam’s output at no cost. The remaining 88% of power generated will go to Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd. under a power purchase agreement. The project is expected to commission its first unit this year.
Shrinagar is expected to utilize the net head of about 66 meters between the diversion dam and the powerhouse to generate electricity. The water conductor system consists of two headrace tunnels, a power channel and penstocks.
The powerhouse accommodates four vertical turbines rated at 82.5 MW each. The water released from turbines will flow into Alaknanda through a tailrace channel.
146-MW Bogudiyar Sirkari Bhyol hydro electric project and 200-MW Mapang Bogudiyar
Uttarakhand has granted approval for the preparation of a Detailed Project Report for a single integrated project, combining both the projects (146 MW + 200 MW) being developed in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand. This will be a merchant power plant for GVK Power & Infrastructure Ltd., with Uttarakhand receiving 12% of output at no cost.
SSC has also requested various stakeholders to meet with MoEF to discuss the implementation of hydro projects in Uttarakhand that include National Thermal Power Corp., National Hydroelectric Power Corp., Tehri Hydro Development Corp. and representatives of non-governmental organizations.