The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued to notice to the managers of the Srinagar Hydroelectric Project for the damage caused to various areas in Srinagar town during Uttarakhand floods because of irresponsible dumping of debris removed from the site of the 330 MW project. Besides Alaknanda Hydropower Co. Ltd (AHCL), notices have also been issued to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and Uttarakhand State government.
The notices follow a petition filed by Premballabh Kala of people’s group, Srinagar Bandh Aapda Sangharsh Samiti, and activist Vimal Bhai of Matu Jansangthan, seeking compensation for damage caused to the areas such as Shaktibihar, Chauhan Mohalla, Alkeshwar Temple and government as well as private property.
Counsel Rahul Choudhary, who appeared on behalf of applicants, argued that the project proponent, AHCL, had dumped large quantities of debris generated from the construction of the Srinagar Hydroelectric Project just beside the gates of the dam on the river bed of the Alaknanda river.
During the Uttarakhand floods on June 16-17, last year, the reservoir of the Srinagar Hydroelectric Project was filled due to heavy rainfall. AHCL kept the gates closed which led to accumulation of water. When the water was far above the limit, AHCL opened the dam gates without informing or sounding any alert to the localities downstream. The massive flow of water swept away the muck that was dumped in the river bed by the dam authorities and damaged the villagers and houses. In certain areas, level of debris and silt in the houses touched the ceiling. The counsel argued that AHCL had not even constructed retention wall which resulted in further damage from the dam.
After hearing the counsel, the bench of five members issued the notice to the respondents. Next hearing is scheduled on February 6.
“Even after six months since the June calamity, there has been no inquiry by the state or Central government. We have been trying to file an FIR but local district police officials have always refused to do so. It is very much clear that politicians are supporting dams, not the welfare of people and are pursuing their own personal interest,” said Vimal Bhai.