Before, during and after the controversial public hearing of destructive Pancheshwar Dam, held in three districts in Uttarakhand, wide media reports in print, in audio-visual and social media gave a loud and clear message: The public hearings violated all legal and democratic norms, in letter and spirit and were clearly illegal.
The Pancheshwar multipurpose project has generated much controversy in India and in Nepal. Its Environment Public Hearing (EPH) was held on August 9, 11 and 17 at Champawat, Pithoragarh and Almora in Uttarakhand. Held during monsoon season in disaster prone hilly region they have invited sharp criticism from all concerned.
There have been scores of reports by local and national media revealing the significant environmental issues being compromised by concerned authorities. We have compiled some key media reports here to illustrate, how clear is the message from all media that the public hearing, the EIA and the project itself involves so many violations of law and democratic norms. They are clearly unacceptable.
The recently concluded Pancheshwar dam Environment Public Hearing (EPH) is classic example of how undemocratically EPH are conducted against the letter and spirit of EIA notification of Sept 2006. Umpteen violations were committed wilfully during three EPH on Pancheshwar Dam on 09, 11 and 17 August 2017 in Champawat, Pithoragarh and Almora district of Uttarakhand.
WHY EPHs IN MONSOON? In July 2017, the proposed Pancheshwar Dam Project planned on Kali river along the India-Nepal border invited sharp criticisms from local groups. Given the ongoing monsoon rain across the disaster prone hills, the people asked the concerned District Magistrates and Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) for the rescheduling[I] the EPH. But overlooking genuine public concerns and incidents of cloud bursts and landslides causing flash floods and road blocks in the project affected districts the authorities went ahead with the EPH plans.
Above: Map showing interventions in Assi River in Varanasi (INTACH)
REPORT TO DIVISIONAL COMMISSIONER, VARANASI
On INTACH’s Pilot Project on Assi Nadi [24th Jan/17 – 26th Feb/17]
Guest Blog by Manu Bhatnagar, INTACH
Featured Image: Saryu River winding through Pithoragarh by Sumit Mahar, HIMDHARA
This is Hindi version of SANDRP petition submitted to District Magistrate Almora, Pithoragarh and Regional Official, Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board, Uttarakhand pleading them to postpone the unfair and unjust public hearing of Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project on Mahakali River. The English version of same can be seen here https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/cancel-pancheshwar-dam-public-hearings-it-involves-too-many-violations-and-illegalities/
भीम सिंह रावत, सैनड्रप,
पंचेश्वर बॉध पर्यावरण जनसुनवाई,
अल्मोडा, उत्तराखण्ड, 17 अगस्त 2017
अध्यक्ष पंचेश्वर बॉध पर्यावरण जनसुनवाई,
एवं जिलाधिकारी, अल्मोडा उत्तराखण्ड
अध्यक्ष क्षेत्रीय कार्यालय प्रभारी
उत्तराखण्ड पर्यावरण सुरक्षा एवं प्रदूषण निंयत्रण बोर्ड देहरादून,
आदरणीय पंचेश्वर बॉध पर्यावरण जनसुनवाई अधिकारिक सदस्य दल,
आज पंचेश्वर बॉध परियोजना की अल्मोडा जिले में तय तीसरी एवं अंतिम पर्यावरण जनसुनवाई, पूरी तरह से पर्यावरण प्रभाव आकलन Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) राजपत्र 2006 के नियमों के विपरीत है। अतः इस जनसुनवाई को निरस्त कर, प्रभावित गॉववासियों से समोचित चर्चा के बाद, भविष्य में यथोचित स्थान पर जनसुनवाई कि जानी चाहिए।
इस जनसुनवाई को निरस्त करने के अनेक कारणों में से कुछ मूल कारणों को निम्नांकित किया जा रहा है। Read More
Ganga Basin, particularly Bihar is facing unprecedented floods, starting on Aug 12, 2017. Water levels of Major tributaries of Ganga, including Kosi, Mahananda, Rapti, Ghagra, Bagmati, Gandak and Kamlabalan are close to or above the historically highest flood levels almost simultaneously. This has rarely happened in the past. The water level of Ghagra is close to HFL at Elgine Bridge in Barabanki district in Uttar Pradesh. Most other flood forecasting sites in North Bihar and East UP were shown as pink dots on CWC flood forecasting map on Aug 13-15, signifying that water level at these sites was above the danger level. This is possibly the beginning, this wave is expected to rise as it travels down towards Bihar and then W Bengal and Bangladesh. Read More
SANDRP BLOG: Brahmaputra basin to face unprecedented floods starting Aug 12, 2017: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/08/12/brahmaputra-basin-faces-unprecedented-flood-wave-in-aug-2017/
North Bengal Flood situation “Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling are the five districts which have been affected by the flood. Earlier in the day, Irrigation Minister Rajib Banerjee said that the state government is tackling the flood in north Bengal on war footing.” 58,000 people had been affected in Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts.
MAY BE IF THEY WOKE TWO DAYS EARLIER WHEN NASA MAP CLEARLY SHOWED THE HEAVY RAINFALL HAVING ALREADY OCCURRED, THEY MAY NOT HAVE HAD TO TACKLE IT ON WAR FOOTING AND A LOT OF DAMAGE COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED? http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/flood-situation-worsening-in-north-bengal-says-mamata-banerjee-1736993 Read More
In the morning of Aug 11, 2017, while checking my daily morning routine sites, I saw the sudden appearance of purple patch (signifying rainfall in access of 175 mm rainfall in previous 24 hours) on NASA daily rainfall accumulation map for Indian subcontinent.[i] The purpose patch covered parts of the West Bengal, North East Indian and Bangladesh. I was taken aback, but it was not very unusual to see in the peak of monsoon. So as we usually do, I took a screenshot and put up on SANDRP FB page with a warning that this could lead to floods. I did not realize that this was the beginning of an unprecedented wave of floods for these regions that may extend to Ganga basin as I write this. Such purple patches generally disappear in 24 hours, since the rains do not last to long. However, in the case of current phase, not only the purple patch has last now for 42 hours, it has extended to the west, all along India Nepal region along the southern boundary of Nepal. Read More
50-D, AD block, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi 88
August 11 2017
1. District Magistrate,
2. Chairman/ Regional office incharge,
Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board,
COPY to: 1. IA Division (River Valley Projects) MoEF, Delhi
2. Chairman and Members of Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects
Respected Members of Public Hearing Panel for Pancheshwar Dam,
The public hearing now being conducted for the massive Pancheshwar Dam at Pithoragarh today, as part of the requirement under the EIA notification of Sept 2006 is being held in complete violation of letter and spirit of many norms of the EIA notification. Hence these public hearings should be cancelled. They should be rescheduled after appropriate conditions are achieved for the public hearing. Some of the key reasons for this are listed below, but these are not exhaustive reasons, but only a list of key indicative reasons. Read More