Nearly four months after the Uttarakhand floods, Environment and Forests ministry has formed an expert committee to study whether the environmental degradation caused by hydro-electric projects on Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers led to the disaster.

Other than looking into the degradation caused by functioning as well as on-going hydro-projects, the committee will also examine the impact of the proposed 24 hydropower projects on the biodiversity of the region. The ministry has given the committee a period of three months to study the impact and submit a final report by January 14, 2014, a statement on the ministry’s website said.

The 17-member committee will examine the extent to which the projects were responsible for the tragedy. “The committee has been constituted in accordance with the directions issued by the Supreme Court vide its judgement dated 13.08.2013 in the case of Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd. versus Anuj Joshi and others,” the statement said.

The committee will also suggest suitable environmental safeguard measures to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts in respect of ongoing projects for which Environment Clearance have been granted including tourism projects and also suggest changes in project parameters if they feel it necessary, the statement added.

The committee will also draft a Himalayan Policy for Uttarakhand keeping in mind the unique ecological, social and cultural characteristics of the state and suggest environment friendly development activities, the statement said.

Courtesy: pune mirror