Shimla (July 4): Eminent environmentalists and activists opposing hydropower projects in Himachal have petitioned the Asian Development Bank to withhold loan for these projects and review its decision. In a joint petition addressed to senior energy specialist, South Asia Regional Department, Asian Development Bank, environmentalists including Medha Patkar, Bharat Jhunjhunwala, Rohan D’Souza, Manoj Misra, Soumya Dutta, Vijay Pratap and Samir Mehta have urged the bank to review its decision thoroughly in respect of four projects under the Clean Energy Development Programme on grounds of violations of its own safeguards.
Urging ADB to steer clear of hydropower projects in ecologically sensitive areas like Kinnaur and Sainj and not to look purely about its economic interest, they said that giving it a ‘green’ colour amounts to a serious lack of ethics. Demanding immediate scrapping of the Sainj, Shongtong Karchham, Kashang II and III hydropower projects, the petition said that while the Kashang project’s II and III stage were being opposed by the local people, the Shongtong Karchham project on the Satluj would only add to the severe ecological destruction and disappearance of the Satluj river and the fragile Sainj valley needs a serious review about the carrying capacity.
Other concerns raised in the petition covered absence of free and fair public consultations and prior informed consent as fundamental principles, callous attitude of the implementing agency HPPCL in interacting with affected communities, poor and inadequate environment impact assessment reports completely ignoring socio-economic concerns as well as ecological impacts.