The main project construction contracts were awarded and construction started in 2006, however, work was stopped in 2009 after Professor G. D. Agrawal, one of Indias eminent scientists, came close to dying on the 38th day of his fast in protest of the blocking the headwaters of the sacred River Ganges. The project was officially scrapped in 2010. (1) Before that, after repeated refusal of the government to scrap the project, a group of activists — including local villagers, lawyers, NGOs, Hindu religious leaders and a member of the National Ganga River Basin Authority — started plotting out a protest campaign to stop Loharinag Pala hydel project. The protesters planned an indefinite hunger strike in Haridwar.The main argument was that the project will affect the flow of the Bhagirathi, which is a tributary of the Ganga, and that the project promoter NTPC violated environmental guidelines. They also felt that the Group of Ministers which made the recommendation to retain the project based on fiscal issues — Rs. 600 crore has already been spent on the project — had not taken into account these issues.
The barrage site is next to NH 108 at Loharinag Temple. The Project has a mountainous catchment area of 3,316 square kilometres (1,280 sq mi), of which 1,849 square kilometres (714 sq mi) (56%) is covered in snow or glacier.
Government of Uttarakhand, District Forest Officer Uttarakashi
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:
'Save Ganga', Peoples Science Institute, Matu Jan Sangathan, GD AGGARWAL, Environmentalist
Conflict and Mobilization
HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
PREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Local ejos Social movements Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:
Blockades Creation of alternative reports/knowledge Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism Official complaint letters and petitions Public campaigns Hunger strikes and self immolation
Impacts of the project
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Conflict outcome / response:
Negotiated alternative solution New legislation Strengthening of participation Violent targeting of activists New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:
The 600 MW dam, being constructed by the NTPC Limited on the Bhagirathi near Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand, will be scrapped. It has also been decided to declare the 135-km stretch between Gomukh and Uttarkashi as an eco-sensitive zone under the Environmental Protection Act and no development projects will be allowed in the zone. Nevertheless, ejos are still mobilized in order to make sure that the project will never be relaunched by the government.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries
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