Photo Essay on the impacts of blasting and tunneling for hydropower projects in Kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh – 2

Guest Blog by: Sumit Mahar (sumitmahar.12@gmail.com), Him Dhara Environment Research and Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh [1]

Tunneling for hydropower project using the blasting technique can have massive impacts. It has a series of direct and indirect impacts which have already been documented. Among the most serious impacts is drying up of the natural drinking water springs and the reduction in sub-soil moisture. This directly impacts the drinking water availability for the local villagers as well as agriculture and horticultural productivity, which is critically dependent upon the presence of sub-soil moisture. Blasting for tunnels and other underground components of hydroelectricity projects creates vibrations that have resulted in cracks in houses situated near these components.

Importance of impacts of tunneling and blasting becomes very important since all run of the river (ROR) projects involve tunneling and blasting. Proponents claim that ROR hydropower projects are environment friendly, but most people do not know that the tunneling and blasting adds an additional dimension to the impacts due to ROR hydropower projects and these can be very serious. Most environmental and social impact assessments or cumulative impact assessments do not even assess these impacts. Many times the proponent get away claiming that the impacts are not due to the projects, when in reality all evidence shows that these are very much caused by the tunneling and blasting being done as part of the construction of these projects.

This photo essay documents the impacts of tunneling and blasting for hydropower projects mainly in Kinnaur (part 1 of photo essay does the same for projects in Chamba district) of Himachal Pradesh. In Kinnaur the photo essay includes such impacts of 1000 MW Karcham Wangtoo and 1500 MW Nathpa Jakhri hydropower projects.[2] It is noteworthy that impacts are not only limited to large hydropower projects, but also to what is defined as small hydropower projects (projects below 25 MW installed capacity). This should also help puncture the misconceived notion that small hydropower projects are environmental benign and they do not need environmental and social impact assessment, public consultations, appraisal, monitoring or compliance.

These photo essays are indicative of the kind of impacts tunneling and blasting can have in the process of building hydropower projects in the Himalayas. What they indicate is relevant not only for Himachal Pradesh, but entire Himalayas and all projects that involve such tunneling and blasting. We hope these photo essays open the eyes of state governments, Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, Union Ministry of Power, Union Ministry of Water Resources, Central Electricity Authority, state environment departments, hydropower developers, EIA consultants, chairman and members of Expert  Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects, media, judiciary, civil society and all others concerned.

 Karcham Wangtoo Hydro Power Project, Kinnaur

Project Jaypee Karcham Wangtoo HEP
Capacity (MW) 1000
Basin Satluj
District Kinnaur
Villages Choling, Yulla, Urni, Runnag, Meeru, Chugaun
Pictures taken on 25 May to 2 June 2014
Murim-I, is a local stream that dried up due to the 17 km long 1000MW Karcham Wangtoo project’s tunnel in Kinnaur district. The stream is surrounded by grazing lands

Murim-I, is a local stream that dried up due to the 17 km long 1000MW Karcham Wangtoo project’s tunnel in Kinnaur district. The stream is surrounded by grazing lands

Murim-II next to Murim I shared a common source which led to drying up of both streams

Murim-II next to Murim I shared a common source which led to drying up of both streams

Nang Choling water source or chashma near the highway. The water was used for drinking not just by the people in Choling but also by passers by. This source has totally dried up now due to the Karcham Wangtoo tunnel construction

Nang Choling water source or chashma near the highway. The water was used for drinking not just by the people in Choling but also by passers by. This source has totally dried up now due to the Karcham Wangtoo tunnel construction

Peokeh-I is a water source in the Yulla village. The discharge of this source has reduced by 50% since the construction of the tunnel for Karcham Wangtoo HEP

Peokeh-I is a water source in the Yulla village. The discharge of this source has reduced by 50% since the construction of the tunnel for Karcham Wangtoo HEP

Yet another source of water - Peokeh-II, Yulla village whose discharge has reduced by 30 to 40%

Yet another source of water – Peokeh-II, Yulla village whose discharge has reduced by 30 to 40%

Jyoti Prakash’s house in Yulla village suffered from cracks because of the tunnel construction of Karcham Wangtoo HEP

Jyoti Prakash’s house in Yulla village suffered from cracks because of the tunnel construction of Karcham Wangtoo HEP

Jagat Singh’s fields had this water source and used this for drinking and irrigation. Due to the reduction in the discharge after tunnel construction there is just enough water to use for drinking

Jagat Singh’s fields had this water source and used this for drinking and irrigation. Due to the reduction in the discharge after tunnel construction there is just enough water to use for drinking

Kakhiyo water source was used for drinking by 10 families in Yulla and the source is now totally dry

Kakhiyo water source was used for drinking by 10 families in Yulla and the source is now totally dry

Lang Chuldhing water source in Yulla the discharge has reduced due to the tunnel. 4 -5 families in the vicitnity depend on this source

Lang Chuldhing water source in Yulla the discharge has reduced due to the tunnel. 4 -5 families in the vicitnity depend on this source

Ram Devi’s gharat in Yulla has been rendered useless along with another 4 above her’s. All due to the drying up of a water source – Yang baro

Ram Devi’s gharat in Yulla has been rendered useless along with another 4 above her’s. All due to the drying up of a water source – Yang baro

Yang Baro water source was feeding the watermills as well as irrigation channels. Now there is hardly any water for these

Yang Baro water source was feeding the watermills as well as irrigation channels. Now there is hardly any water for these

Ramanand Negi showed this water source in Urni village which emerged suddenly in 2005. This has come out in a location where there is a landslide getting active

Ramanand Negi showed this water source in Urni village which emerged suddenly in 2005. This has come out in a location where there is a landslide getting active

This is the Urni steep slope where the landslide is active

This is the Urni steep slope where the landslide is active

Ramanand’s House in Urni village which has developed cracks and crevices due to the blasting and construction of tunnel for Karcham Wangtoo Project

Ramanand’s House in Urni village which has developed cracks and crevices due to the blasting and construction of tunnel for Karcham Wangtoo Project

Runnag Chashma is used by the Runnag village for washing and drinking. The water discharge has reduced substantially

Runnag Chashma is used by the Runnag village for washing and drinking. The water discharge has reduced substantially

Munni Lal’s apple orchard which was impacted by a landslide last year when the June 2013 monsoon rains occurred

Munni Lal’s apple orchard which was impacted by a landslide last year when the June 2013 monsoon rains occurred

Landslide just above the tunnel of Karcham Wangtoo project at Rangle. This was also activated lst year during the monsoons

Landslide just above the tunnel of Karcham Wangtoo project at Rangle. This was also activated lst year during the monsoons

Ryabi Khaldam (Disturbed Source), the water source has relocated naturally after the construction of the tunnel began

Ryabi Khaldam (Disturbed Source), the water source has relocated naturally after the construction of the tunnel began

Land slide at Meeru village activated last year and the main path of the village disturbed

Land slide at Meeru village activated last year and the main path of the village disturbed

Buthkas, IPH Source fully dried now as a result of tunnel. Almost the entire Meeru panchayat was dependent on this water for drinking

Buthkas, IPH Source fully dried now as a result of tunnel. Almost the entire Meeru panchayat was dependent on this water for drinking

Jagdish Chand Negi’s house in Chugaun was impacted because of the construction of Karcham Wangtoo Tunnel

Jagdish Chand Negi’s house in Chugaun was impacted because of the construction of Karcham Wangtoo Tunnel

Cow shed developed cracks in Chugaun affected by Karcham Wangtoo Project’s tunnel construction

Cow shed developed cracks in Chugaun affected by Karcham Wangtoo Project’s tunnel construction

Nathpa Jhakari Hydro Power Project

Project Nathpa Jhakari HEP
Capacity (MW) 1500
Basin Satluj
District Kinnaur
Villages Nigulseri & Jhakari
Pictures taken on 29/05/2014 & 03/06/2014
On 25th May 2014 this landslide occurred in Nigulseri village. Locals claim that the tunnel of 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Project had already disturbed the area which was further disturbed because of the transmission tower construction for Baspa II and Karchham Wangtoo HEPs

On 25th May 2014 this landslide occurred in Nigulseri village. Locals claim that the tunnel of 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Project had already disturbed the area which was further disturbed because of the transmission tower construction for Baspa II and Karchham Wangtoo HEPs

Geeta Ram’s house affected by the landslide at Nigulseri

Geeta Ram’s house affected by the landslide at Nigulseri

Shamsher Singh’s house cracks at Nigulseri in May 2014. A total of 13 houses have suffered such damages

Shamsher Singh’s house cracks at Nigulseri in May 2014. A total of 13 houses have suffered such damages

This landslide has occurred near powerhouse of the Nathpa Jhakri project in Jhakri

This landslide has occurred near powerhouse of the Nathpa Jhakri project in Jhakri

For Part 1 of the photo essay related to tunneling impacts of hydropower projects in Chamba district, see: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/photo-essay-on-the-impacts-of-blasting-and-tunneling-for-hydropower-projects-in-chamba-district-in-himachal-pradesh-1/

END NOTES:

[1] The photo blog also appears here: http://www.himdhara.org/2014/08/06/photo-essay-when-mountains-are-hollowed/

[2] For a detailed article on this issue, Seeping through the cracks, see: http://www.epw.in/web-exclusives/seeping-through-cracks.html

One Comment on “Photo Essay on the impacts of blasting and tunneling for hydropower projects in Kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh – 2

  1. very good noteworthy work summi.. i hope this brings some light on the unsaid stories.. all our appreciation for raising the issues in a great visual form.. a catchy one.. i hope it works.. good luck.. keep it up buddy 🙂

    Like

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