‘Muck removed from the barrage is being deposited near Alaknanda’

Dehradun: Jaiprakash Power Ventures Limited’s 400-MW Vishnuprayag hydro-power project that incurred much damage during the mid-June deluge is flouting environmental norms by depositing muck on the riverside, say environmentalists.

The barrage of hydro-power project, which is in Chamoli district, got filled with muck during the June 16 and 17 flash floods in the Alaknanda . Vimal Bhai, a member of Matu Jan Sangathan that works on dam related issues, said, “Post-disaster the muck being removed from the barrage is being deposited near the Alaknanda. This is against the environmental norms.”

“This would increase the level of the river bed and will result in future disasters in the area,” Mr. Vimal Bhai added.

The residents have been constantly protesting against the activities of the project authorities but no action has been taken yet.

A letter written by Mr. Vimal Bhai to Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest Jayanti Natrajan on October 22 reads: “Agitations are going on for the restoration of the villages and for the proper/full compensation of the losses due to the calamity that occurred between June 16 and 17, when dam gates were not opened on time. Despite heavy rain, dam gates remained closed and this led to the devastating floods (in the downstream areas).”

The flood gates of the 400-MW hydropower project got blocked during June 16 and 17 when the Alaknanda, on which the barrage exists, got flooded due to heavy rainfall.

Mr. Vimal Bhai said, “The project authorities initially kept the floodgates of the barrage closed to store water. Later when they opened the flood gates, the muck that had entered the barrage blocked the gates and water couldn’t escape.”

Eventually water escaped from the barrage site breaking much of the project infrastructure. An officer from the Vishnuprayag hydropower project said, “Along with the barrage components, the offices and equipment also got washed away in the flash floods.”

Mr. Vimal Bhai said, “The downstream villages including Lambagarh, Pandukeshwar, and Govindghat suffered from heavy losses. Many buildings, roads, shops, livestock in these areas got destroyed from the gush that entered the downstream areas.”

However, the project authorities have rubbished the allegations.

An official from the project said, “Around 1.5 kilometre of the road near the barrage has been washed out due to the flash floods. Large boulders have replaced the previously existing road. To start repairing the barrage we need to construct a road. The muck we are depositing is to flatten the surface over the boulders so that a road can be constructed for the equipment to move over it and reach the barrage.”

Courtesy: The Hindu