Himachal Group Opposes World Bank Consultation Over Hydropower

Himachal Group Opposes World Bank Consultation Over Hydropower Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Issues Tender for Supply of 5 MW Solar Project

A motley group of dam affected people and other activists in Himachal Pradesh have shot off a letter to the World Bank and Directorate of Energy, HP, on July 6 protesting against the hydropower projects in the state. They also boycotted the scheduled ‘Stakeholder Consultation’ for the proposed $200 million ‘Himachal Pradesh Power Sector Development Programme’.

Called Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective (Himdhara), the group termed the hydropower development as “blatant and willful negligence of hazardous hydropower dams in Himachal Pradesh. The letter reads, “The World Bank cannot be lending support to the Himachal government without a fair review of the impacts of the state’s hydropower development programme up to date and a transparent and participatory critical review of the current energy policy.”

Lauding the HP government for large scale hydropower development instead of bringing on the table any of the issues raised, World Bank recently announced a new project worth 200-million-dollars to support the development of environment social safety systems for the large scale renewable energy plans.

Since a hydropower or any project for that matter can not be built without land, there will always be some people who may have to face displacement. Ranging from deforestation to acquisition of scarce and precious agricultural land to irreversible shifts in sensitive terrestrial, geological and hydrological regimes, the concerns have left the displaced people agitated completely blind to the brighter side of the project which will bring green energy transition.

The letter reads further, “Cascade of hydropower dams have disrupted environmental flows and riverine ecosystems like no other activity ever has in the history of the Himalayas. The time and cost overruns to the projects prompting the private players to pull out of the sector as the clean energy carbon credits have dried up as projects run into inordinate delays and left it for the public sector entities in the name of development, national interest and green growth.”

The protest comes even as India’s Environmental ministry has been accused of being singularly focused on enabling projects, instead of actually protecting the environment as its mandate defines its role. The Supreme Court has also recently commented  on the ‘mechanical’ working of the National Green Tribunal(NGT), which has made a coherent view of green issues more difficult.

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