Kirthai Hydroelectric Project

Kirthai  Hydroelectric Project in Kishtwar district which is expected to generate 1320 Mega Watts of electricity, was not going to take off for the time being as for obtaining much needed environment clearance was going to take some more time. Has the proposal not been prepared in a professional and unerring way in order to increasingly minimize any chances of not coming up to the expectations of expert panel of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests ? Perhaps it is exactly found in that way as the expert panel has noticed certain shortcomings in the proposal itself and sought revised Environmental Impact Assessment and Environment Management Plan from the Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation.
Any project on such a mega scale as the one proposed under reference must pre-assess the likely impact, direct or indirect, positive or damaging, it was going to have on environment. It must encompass vital aspects like natural, social and economic in nature at the time of critical decisions taking moments. The technical, professional and other administrative authorities directly associated with such projects, must assess the anticipated environmental impact very correctly to decide whether the same could be kept to the barest minimum levels and managed and if not, whether to proceed at all with the project. It is without prejudice to the dire need of producing more power to cater to the ever growing demand for it in the State of Jammu and Kashmir and to narrow the gap between demand and supply of power.
Environment Management Plan addresses as to how the fragility and vulnerability of the environment  including trees, forests, hills , banks of rivers and lakes and other topography was managed on account of high degree human  interference . In the instant case, River Chenab, its banks, its course, vertebrate habitat fishes etc and other issues related to environment were going to be intensely looked into and a foolproof management plan devised. Habitat for the indigenous fish was likely to be adversely affected in terms of their migration as also negative effects of project construction and these vital environment related issues too were to be addressed.
The project, other things remaining same, is a promising one going to address State’s power needs in a major way as its two stages – one with 390  MW electricity generating capacity  and the other,  with 930 Mega Watts would go a long way in production of power to enable the State reach self sufficiency levels. However, a slightly unexpected development has taken place in run up to the starting of work on it in the form of Expert Appraisal Committee of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests not inclined to grant immediately environment clearance as several shortcomings in the proposal have been found by them.
Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation is now required to carry out fresh and a ong exercise to meet the requirements of the panel and resubmit its revised proposal with assured remedial measures. Since it was going to take unspecified time, no time frame can thus be specified. While we expect that to be expedited; at the same time, had these important aspects taken due care of initially, perhaps the project work would have been in the State of readiness by this time. Postponement was fraught with the problem of cost escalation too, hence due attention needs to be given to undertaking of the revised exercise.