Objections raised on CDM benefits to Neogal hydro-power project



Palampur: Concerned citizens and environment action groups of Palampur have submitted detailed objections on the proposal by OM Power Project to claim Carbon Credits under the Clean Development Mechanism, to the United Nations Framework for Climate Change Convention’s (UNFCCC) Executive Board. Highlighting the serious damages caused by the 15 MW project to the Neogal river valley and the water supply systems on it, the memorandum has pointed out that the project does not deserve any benefits under CDM.

Located in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh, the Neogal is a perrenial tributary of the Beas river originating from the Dhauladhar hills. The key characteristic of the river is the heavy dependence on it for drinking water and irrigation. A tradtional, well developed Kuhl (irrigation channel) system exists in the Palampur area, whereby villages have channelised water of the Neogal river for irrigation purposes. Palampur town and villages upto 30 Km downstream – close to 30,000 population – depend on the water of the Neogal river. The memorandum has stated that unscientific muck disposal and the landslides caused by the construction activity of the project, especially the road, had damaged and blocked the main water supply channels. “For the last three years the Irrigation and Public Health Department, which officially governs these channels, has billed an amount of Rs 3 crores as penalty to the project proponents, who have paid up only about 9 lakhs as of today which has been utilised for some repair work”.

Another concern that has been raised is the pollution of water. The submission says, “The waste from the workers colonies of the project at the power house as well as the tunnel site is flowing untreated into the Neogal river and contaminating the water. The heavy siltation and muck in the water, especially during the monsoons makes the river highly turbid and the water dangerous for drinking despite filteration. The forests of the Dhauladhar range and the Neogal river need to be protected and conserved to ensure clean and sustained water supply but the project has disturbed the balance of this area. The Palampur Citizens Environment Welfare Forum as well as residents of the Bundla Panchayat and users of the kuhls have raised these issues over the last three years”.

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