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No new hydropower projects in Uttarakhand, says apex court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Ministry of Environment and Forest and the Uttarakhand government not to grant any further environmental clearance or forest clearance for any hydroelectric power project in the state until further orders.

Expressing its concerns with the recent tragedy of the state, a bench of Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra gave other directions as well. It directed MoEF to constitute an Expert Body consisting of representatives of the State Government, Wild Life Institute of India (WII), Central Electricity Authority, Central Water Commission and other expert bodies to make a detailed study. The study is to determine whether Hydroelectric Power Projects existing and under construction have contributed to the environmental degradation, if so, to what extent and also whether it has contributed to the present tragedy occurred at Uttarakhand in the month of June 2013.

It also directed MoEF to examine, as noticed by WII in its report, as to whether the proposed 24 projects are causing significant impact on the biodiversity of Alaknanda and Bhagirath River basins. It also asked the Disaster Management Authority, Uttarakhand to submit a report to the apex court as to whether they had any Disaster Management Plan is in place in the State and how effective that plan was for combating the present unprecedented tragedy at Uttarakhand.

The court said that the reports have to be submitted within three months.

The court gave these directions after observing, ‘We are also deeply concerned with the recent tragedy, which has affected the Char Dham area of Uttarakhand. Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIG) recorded 350mm of rain on 15-16 June this year.
Nitish K Singh

Nitish K Singh

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