The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on Friday issued orders to stop the work to raise the level of the Dhari Devi temple. The temple will be submerged when the Shrinagar Hydro-Electric Project gets completed. The stop work notice was issued to the developer, Alaknanda Hydro Power Co Ltd (AHPCL). The move follows close on the heels of the ministry’s submission to the Supreme Court that the temple should not be shifted at all because of the religious sentiments attached to it.
A letter issued to AHPCL by MoEF director, BB Burman, reads: “The central government in exercise of its power vested under Section 5 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 hereby directs the AHPCL shall not undertake any work for dislocation of deity and all the work associated with the Dhari Devi Temple till the final order/judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court is passed in the aforesaid matter.”
The order reads that in all affidavits submitted to the Supreme Court, MoEF has reiterated the issue of preservation of Dhari Devi temple at its present location. MoEF, in its affidavit dated May 6, has in placed detailed facts about the the Dhari Devi Temple before the court and prayed that the project proponent be directed to submit plan/solution to the satisfaction of the MoEF, thereby ensuring the preservation of the temple at its present location. “Even the joint committee in its report has not suggested any categorical solution for preservation of the Dhari temple at its present location,” the stop work notice reads.
It is not clear when the Supreme Court will next hear the cause because the court closed for summer vacation till July.