New Delhi: The government today met to
analyse the environmental costs of discontinuing work on the
600 MW Loharinag Pala dam on Bhagirathi river in Uttarakhand
to ensure free flow of the river.
However, it is understood that no decision was taken at
the meeting, which was chaired by Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee and attended by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh
besides senior officials from the Himalayan state. Power
Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde did not attend the meeting as he
was not out of town.
The officials from Uttarakhand made the presentation on
the existing as well proposed dams vis-a-vis power requirement
in the state.
The ministers also reviewed the study of an expert panel
comprising members from the Central Water Commission (CWC),
Environment Ministry, IIT and NTPC on the possible
environmental consequences of abandoning the project midway.
"No decision was taken and it was decided to hold the
meeting again to deliberate the matter," official sources
Work on the Loharinag-Pala dam had commenced in 2005,
with an investment of Rs 2,200 crore but it was suspended last
year by the environment ministry following concerns raised by
environmentalists and locals that the free flowing character
of the Bhagirathi had almost come to a halt.
However, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal
Nishank favored the continuation of the project to meet the
need of the power-starved state.
He was also of the opinion that the issue should be
discussed by the newly appointed National Ganga River Basin
Authority instead of taking it up at today`s meeting.
The Central government has already scrapped two proposed
hydel projects --381 MW Bhaironghati project and 480 MW
Pala-Maneri project -- on the river to ensure its free flow.