The National Green Tribunal has imposed a fine of Rs.50 lakh on the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Ltd (THDC), for disposing debris and muck excavated out of construction road for power house of the Chamoli based Vishnugad-Peepalkoti Hydroelectric Project into the Alaknanda River. The judgement was delivered on Thursday in New Delhi by NGT Chairperson Swatenter Kumar. The petition in this matter was moved to National Green Tribunal by environmental activist Vimal Bhai.
The road construction led to huge amounts of muck and debris which were directly being dumped into the river, in violation of the law, including the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, as well as the Environmental Clearance conditions granted to the THDC for construction and operation of the hydroelectric project.
Thanking NGT for the judgement, activist Vimal Bhai said, “Keeping this judgement in mind, the state government, central government should strengthen their vigilance bodies not just for Vishnugad-Peepalkoti project but for all the hydro power project being run in the state of Uttarakhand and in the Himalayas, so that the natural flow of river is not disturbed and the river bed is preserved.”
The unchecked dumping increases the risk of landslides, destabilisation of slopes and damage to the river flow. Considering the gross negligence in disposing muck and debris accumulated and ignoring the prescribed muck disposal plan, the NGT imposed the fine. The NGT asked for an absolute restriction on muck dumping in the Alaknanda River by the THDC.
More so, as a further deterrent, the NGT made it clear that in case the muck dumping continues, an additional cost of Rs.25 lakh would be imposed. The Tribunal also directed the project proponent to maintain computerised records of water samples upstream and downstream as a precautionary measure, much needed in light of the unpredictable climatic conditions which affect the Alaknanda and other rivers in the State of Uttarakhand.