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37 hydropower projects allotted in Himachal hills

IANS  |  Shimla 

The Himachal Pradesh government has allotted 37 hydropower projects in the hills of Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul-Spiti district where residents have been complaining these will displace them and also damage the area's fragile ecology.

The projects, with a combined generation capacity of 2,292 MW, are under different stages of execution, Power Minister Sujan Singh Pathania informed the assembly Tuesday.

Corporate giant Larsen and Toubro (L&T) has been allotted a 420 MW hydropower project in Reoli Dugli, the biggest in the district, while Seli Hydroelectric Power Company Ltd is executing a 400 MW project over the Chenab river near Shulling village.

In 2012, residents of Lahaul valley knocked on the doors of the union environment and forests ministry protesting against the upcoming hydropower projects on the Chenab river basin.

They said the projects not only threaten to displace them but will also affect the local ecology.

"The Chenab, one of the five major river basins in Himachal, remains the least exploited basin for hydro electricity generation. The government is hell bent on killing the only living river (in the state)," said their letter.

The Chenab basin falls largely in the high-altitude region (above 2,500 metres) in Lahaul and Spiti district. The area is characterised by difficult terrain and fragile and loose mountains prone to avalanches and landslides as well as falling in seismic zone-IV.

"In such an area, construction of reservoirs and tunnels will have serious implications. Any rise in the temperature and rainfall can bring havoc in the form of landslides and can cause disasters similar to the kind that happened in Leh in August 2010," said the letter.

The mega projects coming up in Lahaul are in Miyar, Seli and Udiapur areas of the district.

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First Published: Tue, February 11 2014. 18:10 IST