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Water Irrigation Project – Uttarakhand | Habitat Loss


The LAKHWAR-VYASI multipurpose project in Uttarakhand got environmental clearance from National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) in April 2020, while the fear of COVID-19 was wreaking havoc on the whole country. The single largest diversion involved 768 hectares of forest land for the hydroelectric power project, close to the Binog Wildlife Sanctuary.

A project that had been granted approval by the Planning Commission in 1976, it has since then, been a topic of controversy.

The construction of the dam began in 1987 by the Jaypee Group but was halted within the next 5 years in 1992 due to the lack of funding. In 2008, it was notified as a national project and once again received environmental clearance from the MoEF in 2014. Expected to be completed in 2016, revised to 2018 the project was stalled for almost 30 years.

Kona, the first village which is in full submergence area is located about 1 km upstream of the dam site. Ten families fell prey the subsequent disasters out of which 4 had to migrate. The ones that stayed reported great difficulties, being deprived of basic developmental work like water, power, roads for about the past 30 years under the pretext of proposed dam and the subsequent submergence. Villagers are forced to climb up 2 km uphill to access the transport facilities to nearby markets.

In January 2018, bid for the construction was again called for. Soon after in early 2018, Prime Minister Modi laid the foundation stone, and construction commenced with a target completion deadline of 4 years by December 2022, and got clearance from NBWL. The company’s aims to complete the project in four years were however put on hold following protests by environmentalist GD Agrawal.

The project is expected to irrigate 40,000 hectares land. As fancy as it sounds, it isn’t, because it is also accompanied by the submergence of 50 villages and 868.08 ha of forest land.

Environmentalists expressed their concerns to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that Delhi may be inundated as the project will be executed on a highly seismically-active zone that is prone to landslides, The Central Water Commission (CWC) however claimed that all critical issues, including those of forests and environmental clearances, had been addressed. But, have they?

Here is why their statement cannot be trusted

  1. At Vyasi HEP dam site at Juddo, muck was seen reaching the active current of the river. Polluted water from concrete mixture plant was also being dumped into the river which severely affect the aquatic life in the yamuna river

  2. Locals say whenever there is increased flow in the river due to rain or flood, most of the muck gets washed away in the river. Villagers also fear a repeat of June 2013 like the flood disaster that struck Srinagar due to illegal muck dumping by Alaknanda HEP. MoEF and EAC had turned a blind eye to illegalities then too.

  3. A new power station wall for Vyasi HEP is being built, which totally falls inside the active stream of river Yamuna thus further narrowing down the river space.There are many small and big landslide taking place around the Vyasi power station site apart from continuous bank erosion near Bosan along right bank and Kata Pathar village.

It’s time, we put People before Profits. It’s time, we finally band together and stand up for what is right. It’s time, because we don’t have much time.


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