NEW DELHI, Jan 6 � Acting on a petition filed by the Assam Public Works (APW), the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday issued notices to the Ministry of Power, Ministry of Environment and Forest, governments of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, besides the Chairman cum Managing Director of the NHPC Limited to respond to allegations that downstream impact of the Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project has been ignored.
The case came up for hearing before the Bench comprising the Chairperson of NGT Justice Swatanter Kumar, Justice UD Salvi, Judicial Member Dr DK Agarwal, Expert Member BS Sajwan and Dr RC Trivedi.
At the last hearing on December 19, the Bench had remarked that a question had been raised about the minimum sustained flow of water from the Subansiri Lower Hydro Electric Power (SLHEP) dam. However, neither the details of environmental clearance, whether granted or not, nor the facts, which answer the issue of the limitation are apparent from the pleadings before the Bench. The APW had sought time from the NGT to file the details.
According to president of APW Abhijeet Sarma, they had brought to the notice of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and NHPC Ltd that it planned to release only 6 cusec from the dam for 20 hours or so, when the project will be �off-grid�. The information was based on the RTI information, claimed Sarma.
It was alleged that no water was planned to be released for 20 hours to the biggest tributary of the Brahmaputra river, which is home to the Gangetic dolphins.
Now, after eight years of start of the project work in 2005, because of public protest NHPC Limited, has announced that they will release 220 � 250cumec of water by keeping one turbine running. This gesture is not based on any rational basis. This is not the same thing as release of �sustenance water� from the dam for the ecology of the river as needed, automatically, without human control, APW claimed.
The petitioner also pointed out in the petition that any release of water through turbines will release the water about � km downstream of the dam through the power house, thereby completely killing the river for about � km or so from the dam up to the power house.
Any shutdown of flow, even for a short period, will annihilate the downstream biota of the river including the dolphins, - India�s National Aquatic Animal, APW alleged.
The petitioner has pleaded for a suitable opening through the dam at a suitable level through which �sustenance water� of 450cumec, which is the average minimum of the lean water flow over a period, for survival of the dolphins to be incorporated in the dam which, will allow the �sustenance water� to flow automatically, especially in the lean months. A fish ladder is to be located at this opening for fish migration as NHPC Ltd., did not plan for any fish ladder.
Meanwhile, Sarma has questioned why NHPC Limited has �donated� Rs 2.5 crore towards the Chief Minister�s Relief Fund. The donation was paid with the approval of the Board of Directors on August 24, 2012. This was revealed by the NHPC in response to an RTI.