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Tourism Ministry objects to Demwe Lower project

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GUWAHATI, Jan 18 � The Union Tourism and Culture Ministry has objected to the construction of the 1750-MW Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Project on the Lohit River within the vicinity of the Parashuram Kund, a popular site of pilgrimage for the followers of Hinduism.

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism and Culture, Dr Mahesh Sharma, in his December 22, 2014 letter to Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, disclosed his Ministry�s objection to the project.

He said, �If this project is allowed to be constructed, it will generate 23 lakh truckloads of debris, which will destroy not only the holy site of Parashuram Kund, but also the beautiful ambience of the site, which will be converted into a dump yard.�

�The construction of the Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Project and the dam will be disastrous for Parashuram Kund, which is important from both cultural as well as tourism angle,� the Union Tourism Minister said in his letter to the Union Environment Minister.

He maintained, �... the Ministry of Tourism has already sanctioned Rs 462.68 lakh to the Arunachal Pradesh Government for construction of a Tourist Complex at the holy site. This money has already been released to the State Government during 2007-08 and has already been utilized by them.�

On the religious importance of the Kund, he said Parashuram Kund is dedicated to sage Parashuram and finds mention in Kalika Purana and it is said that the great sage washed away his perceived sins by taking a dip in the holy waters of the Kund.

Thousands of devotees and sadhus from all across the country, Nepal and particularly the nearby States of Manipur and Assam congregate at Parashuram Kund to take a holy dip in its waters every year on the occasion of �Makar Sankranti� in the month of January. It is a shrine of all-India importance and it is believed that a dip in its holy waters washes away one�s sins, the Union Tourism Minister said in his letter to the Union Environment Minister.

�I believe that the local stakeholders have filed a case against the project in the National Green Tribunal, and as of now there is a stay on the construction of the project.

�You are also, therefore, requested to kindly place the objection of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture before the National Green Tribunal with regard to the above case,� the Union Tourism Minister said.

But ironically, the Environment Ministry did not make any mention of the objection of the Tourism Ministry to the project while making its submission before the National Green Tribunal and the Tribunal passed its order dismissing the petition opposed to the environment clearance to the project.

The Demwe Lower project will be a 124-metre high dam (akin to a 40-storey building) located 800 metres upstream of Parashuram Kund. The massive powerhouse will be on the opposite bank of Parashuram Kund.

The project is a mega hydel project and involves massive excavation of rock and muck from mountains in a two-km radius of the Kund. The total excavated materials will be around 141.42 lakh cubic metres.

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Tourism Ministry objects to Demwe Lower project

GUWAHATI, Jan 18 � The Union Tourism and Culture Ministry has objected to the construction of the 1750-MW Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Project on the Lohit River within the vicinity of the Parashuram Kund, a popular site of pilgrimage for the followers of Hinduism.

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism and Culture, Dr Mahesh Sharma, in his December 22, 2014 letter to Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, disclosed his Ministry�s objection to the project.

He said, �If this project is allowed to be constructed, it will generate 23 lakh truckloads of debris, which will destroy not only the holy site of Parashuram Kund, but also the beautiful ambience of the site, which will be converted into a dump yard.�

�The construction of the Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Project and the dam will be disastrous for Parashuram Kund, which is important from both cultural as well as tourism angle,� the Union Tourism Minister said in his letter to the Union Environment Minister.

He maintained, �... the Ministry of Tourism has already sanctioned Rs 462.68 lakh to the Arunachal Pradesh Government for construction of a Tourist Complex at the holy site. This money has already been released to the State Government during 2007-08 and has already been utilized by them.�

On the religious importance of the Kund, he said Parashuram Kund is dedicated to sage Parashuram and finds mention in Kalika Purana and it is said that the great sage washed away his perceived sins by taking a dip in the holy waters of the Kund.

Thousands of devotees and sadhus from all across the country, Nepal and particularly the nearby States of Manipur and Assam congregate at Parashuram Kund to take a holy dip in its waters every year on the occasion of �Makar Sankranti� in the month of January. It is a shrine of all-India importance and it is believed that a dip in its holy waters washes away one�s sins, the Union Tourism Minister said in his letter to the Union Environment Minister.

�I believe that the local stakeholders have filed a case against the project in the National Green Tribunal, and as of now there is a stay on the construction of the project.

�You are also, therefore, requested to kindly place the objection of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture before the National Green Tribunal with regard to the above case,� the Union Tourism Minister said.

But ironically, the Environment Ministry did not make any mention of the objection of the Tourism Ministry to the project while making its submission before the National Green Tribunal and the Tribunal passed its order dismissing the petition opposed to the environment clearance to the project.

The Demwe Lower project will be a 124-metre high dam (akin to a 40-storey building) located 800 metres upstream of Parashuram Kund. The massive powerhouse will be on the opposite bank of Parashuram Kund.

The project is a mega hydel project and involves massive excavation of rock and muck from mountains in a two-km radius of the Kund. The total excavated materials will be around 141.42 lakh cubic metres.

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