Three mining projects in Chhattisgarh’s Hasdeo Arand forest on hold following protests

Policy matters this fortnight
28 Jun 2022
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A devastated forest at a coal mining site. Photo for representation only (Image source: IWP Flickr photos)
A devastated forest at a coal mining site. Photo for representation only (Image source: IWP Flickr photos)

Chhattishgarh government puts three mining projects in Hasdeo Arand forest on idefinite hold 

The Chhattisgarh government has put three mining projects-- Parsa East Kete Basen (PEKB), second phase of Parsa and Kete extension-- in the Hasdeo Aranya forest on hold indefinitely, following protests from locals and environmental activists. According to the locals, more than 200,000 trees spread across 841 hectares of forest will have to be chopped down for the Parsa Mining Project.

On April 26, when the forest authorities and district administration officials were about to cut trees, local women reached the spot and hugged the trees as a sign of protest, recreating the Chipko movement.

The member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Ambikapur and Health Minister TS Singh Deo has also joined the protests. The Hasdeo forest covering Chhattisgarh’s Korba, Surguja and Surajpur districts, spans an area of 170,000 hectares. It is a noted migratory corridor and has a significant presence of elephants. (Down to Earth)

Deadline approaching but only 10 states have set up committees for dam safety: Centre

During a day-long workshop on ‘Dam Safety Act, 2021 for dam safety governance in India’, attended by various Ministry officials, Ministers and officers from state government teams, representatives of PSUs that run or own dams, the Jal Shakti Ministry has informed that only 10 states have formed the State Committee for Dam Safety (SCDS) while six have formed the State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSO). These committees are to be formed by June 30 following which the Centre will then be forming the National Committee for Dam Safety (NCDS).

During the workshop, Union Jal Shakti Minister, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat stated “There is a limit on how many new dams we can build. We cannot build another dam at the existing site. The ratio of water demand will only increase as the economy increases. Therefore, taking care of existing assets is more important.”

(Ommcom news)

Uttarakhand government plans to link glacier-fed rivers with the rain-fed ones

With an aim to achieve water security in the state, the Uttarakhand government is planning to link the glacier-fed rivers of Pindari glacier in the Kumaon region with the rain-fed ones in Bageshwar and Almora districts.

The project envisages the linkage of Sunderdunga and Shambhu, major tributaries of the 105-km long Pindar river that originates from the Pindari glacier with Gomti river in Baijnath valley of Bageshwar district and the upper catchment area of Kosi, Lodh and Gagas rivers in Almora district.

A team of experts has initiated the initial ground survey work in order to study the area of Pindar river and try to identify the points from where the water can be extracted. It is likely to get completed within a year after which the department will submit a detailed project report to the Centre for seeking further clearances. (The Times of India)

Centre accords preliminary environmental clearance to the extension of Idukki hydropower project

The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has given its nod to the 800 MW Idukki Hydro Electric Extension project. The Idukki powerhouse was constructed in 1976 and in 2026 it will complete its 50 years of construction and therefore the six turbines installed will need rehabilitation. The extension, worth Rs 2,669.67 crore if completed will help in taking up the rehabilitation work of the existing Idukki hydropower project.

With the completion of the project and rehabilitation work, the power generation capacity of Idukki will increase to 1,580MW, making it the third largest hydel power project in the country.

The project is yet to obtain forest clearance from the National Board for Wildlife as 111 hectares of forest land will be diverted. (The New Indian Express)

India proposes 26 more wetlands to be designated under the Ramsar Convention

India currently has 49 wetlands designated as sites of global importance under the Ramsar Convention. 26 more wetlands have been proposed to be designated under the Convention. Once accepted, the total number of Ramsar wetlands in the country will be 75 this year.

The proposed new sites include Thane Creek from Maharashtra, Nanda Lake from Goa, 12 wetlands from Tamil Nadu, four from Odisha and three from Madhya Pradesh among others.

The Ramsar designation to the wetlands helps in safeguarding them from encroachments, solid waste dumping, discharge of untreated wastes and effluents, expansion of industries and any construction of a permanent nature. Recently, India’s space agency, ISRO, has mapped the country's wetlands, covering 15.98 million hectares which is around 4.86% of the total geographic area of the country. (The Times of India)

This is a roundup of important policy matters from June 8 – 25, 2022. Also, read the news this fortnight.

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