MoEF panel notices shortcomings in proposal seeking environ clearance for Kirthai HEP

Seeks revised reports on vital aspects from JKSPDC

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Aug 4: The much-needed environment clearance for Kirthai Hydroelectric Project will take more time as the expert panel of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has noticed shortcomings in the proposal and sought revised Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environment Management Plan (EMP) reports from the Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that on June 2, 2018, Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC) applied online before Expert Appraisal Committee of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for grant of environmental clearance to Kirthai Hydroelectric Project.
The project, which will generate 1320 Mega Watts of electricity, is proposed to be constructed across River Chenab in Kishtwar district. It will have two stages—one having capacity to generate 390 MW of electricity and another with the capacity of 930 Mega Watts.
In its recent meeting, the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests considered the proposal of JKSPDC and after going through the detailed presentation made by the project proponent decided not to immediately grant environmental clearance, sources said while disclosing that the experts have noticed several shortcomings in the proposal seeking environment clearance.
“The river course beyond Dulhasti Dam in the downstream up to Salal has already been affected due to cascade development of hydro-power projects on Chenab River, which has largely disturbed the propagation of fishes”, the Expert Appraisal Committee has observed, adding “the construction of the projects like the present one has no specific bearing on the migration of fishes as the upstream and downstream courses are having hydroelectric projects”.
However, Bhut Nullah will continue to be a habitat for the indigenous fish specifies and to ameliorate the negative effects of the project construction and overall improvement of the environment additional information is required to be incorporated in the Environment Impact Assessment and Environment Management Plan reports, the panel has stressed.
It has sought one season baseline data and revision of EIA/EMP reports on the basis of the same. “The resultant pollution loads from all the possible pollution sources be estimated and based on the findings mitigative measures be suggested including allocation of capital budgets on different heads”, the Expert Appraisal Committee said.
Pointing towards few environmental parameters described in the EIA/EMP reports, which the project proponent intends to take up for environment management, the expert panel said, “commitment is required to be made as to how to reduce the additional pollution load during post-project scenario”, adding “environmental matrix provided in the EMP are required to be revisited and revised accordingly”.
“The additional information shall be incorporated in the EIA/EMP reports and a fresh proposal shall be submitted to the Ministry for reconsideration”, the Expert Appraisal Committee has mentioned in the decision.
It is pertinent to mention here that scoping clearance to this project was accorded in June 2013 for a period of two years, which expired in June 2015. Presently, the scoping clearance validity for River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects is four years. Thereafter the Ministry granted extension of validity for the 5th year—till June 2018.
“No time-frame can be specified for placement of fresh proposal seeking environment clearance before the Expert Appraisal Committee as JKSPDC is required to carry out a long exercise to meet the requirement of the panel”, sources said, adding “no time-frame has yet been fixed for start of work on the project”.
In response to a question, they said that main issues which were raised by the public during a hearing conducted last year included implementation of Relief and Rehabilitation Policy and adequate compensation at par with the provisions proposed in Kishanganga Project, employment, school and hospital, free electricity and infrastructure for the affected populace. It has been stressed that crushers and mixing plants should not be established within the vicinity of the habitation.
“The project proponent has submitted before the Expert Appraisal Committee that all these issues will be taken care of and cost estimates for the same have already been worked out and reflected in the EMP”, sources said.