The 520 MW Nakthan Hydroelectricity Project is a Run-of-the-river project proposed in Barshaini Panchayat of District Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. The proposed project will be developed by Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL), a state government enterprise set up exclusively for power generation in the state. The proposed project will utilise the water of Parbati river (tributary of Beas River) and Tosh stream, and will be located 1 km upstream from its confluence point.
Currently, the project is in a very nascent stage but the events around it have already generated significant response on ground vis a vis the local community's perception of the project. Locally based environmental groups such as Gaon Vikas Samiti, a platform initiated by the affected people of Barshaini Panchayat (main affected panchayat) have begun speculating the potential impacts of 520 MW Nakthan project. This is also given their encounter with hydropower 'development' in case of 800 MW Parbati II, a project under construction downstream of proposed Nakthan.
The total land requirement for Nakthan project is 90.07 ha out of which 81.85 hectares is forest land and 8.22 hectares of private land.
• The visible impacts of Parbati II by National Hydropower Corporation Limited (NHPC) has been fundamental in shaping people's response to Nakthan project, be it those related to poor road conditions, landslides, blasting related impacts, discrepancies in local development fund, agricultural productivity, diminishing natural water sources, deforestation, destabilisation of slopes etc.
• Just 14 km uphill from Nakthan village is the famous site of Kheerganga- known for its trekking trail and hot water springs which attracts both domestic and international tourists, especially trekkers. The locals are cautious about Nakthan project's implications on the flourishing tourism economy in the area- especially a new income opportunity for the younger generation.
• Besides the high probability of impacts being similar as the ongoing Parbati II, what has really bonded together people's dissent is threat to the holy site of Rudranag waterfall. A religious and spiritually revered symbol of local faith system, the affected people in their submissions to the MoEFCC (dated 11th November 2013) and the Chief Minister (dated 19th December, 2014) termed it as their "centre of faith". The supremacy of Rudernag waterfall in the everyday social, cultural and religious life of the local affected community stands uncontested in many ways.
• The fact that projects diversion tunnel would run underneath the source of Rudernag waterfall has left the local community agitated. Besides this, violations related to Forest Rights Act have been repeatedly questioned and the affected population has called for a strict implementation of the act under which their community user rights over forest would stand acknowledged.
• The main affected Panchayat of Barshaini and 8 Gram Sabhas under it have passed multiple resolutions opposing the project and have vehemently shot down any scope of granting a No Objection Certificate to HPPCL. The locals have also been fearlessly vocal about District Administrations mounting pressure on them to accept the proposal on the grounds of much needed 'development' of the area.
• The project was considered for Scoping in the 40th Meeting of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on 20-21 August 2010. However, the EAC was not satisfied with the information provided by HPPCL and asked for some additional documents. It was finally in the 45th meeting on 20-21st December 2010, the project was granted Terms of Reference. Thereafter in November 2013, HPPCL applied for an extension on the terms of reference. The validity of the TOR was extended twice by the EAC. Members of local environment groups such as Gaon Vikas Samiti, Jan Jangran evam Vikas Samiti in collaboration with Himdhara Collective objected to this move of the EAC.
• Later, almost a year after, on 29th September 2014, an environmental public hearing was conducted by the Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board (HPPCB) where people once again raised genuine livelihood related issues. The project was listed for Environment Clearance in the 83rd meeting of the EAC. However, the EAC took a quite a radical stand and stood by its own words. Referring to its Office Memorandum dated 28th May 2013- in which it directed the State governments to undertake basin wise Cumulative Environment Impact Assessment Studies (CEIA) for consideration of any project for TOR and environment clearance. No project would be considered for EC unless a basin wise study (in this case Beas) was completed, stated the EAC.
|Name of conflict:||Nakthan Hydroelectricity Project, HP, India|
|State or province:||Himachal Pradesh|
|Location of conflict:||Barshaini Village, District Kullu|
|Accuracy of location||HIGH (Local level)|
|Type of conflict. 1st level:||Water Management|
|Type of conflict. 2nd level:||Deforestation|
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Dams and water distribution conflicts
The 520 MW Nakthan Run-of-the-river Project will have two diversion sites with a common surge shaft and an underground power house on the right bank of the Parvati river with 4 units of 115 MW each. The dam site will be located in Barshaini Panchayat- 1 kms upstream of confluence of Parbati river and Tosh Nallah. Just 1.5 kms downstream of proposed Nakthan dam site is the dam of Parbati II- a project currently under construction. The Diversion Barrage will be located 15 kms upstream of village Barshaini. It will be 13.5 m high and 94.5 m long. It will be located at an altitude of 2963 mts asl. The diversion barrage on Tosh stream would be 12m high and 68.5 m long near Wanschil thach (ridge). The underground power house will be located on right bank of Parvati at an altitude of 2270 msl upstream of Barshaini village. The total length of the head race tunnel is 2.944 kms.
|Level of Investment for the conflictive project||INR 4508 Crores (approximately 710,000,000)|
|Type of population||Rural|
|Affected Population:||2 villages to be directly impacted by land acquistion|
|Company names or state enterprises:||Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) from India - Project Developer|
|Relevant government actors:||Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board, State Pollution Control Board, Expert Advisory Committee, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC)|
|Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:||Gaon Vikas Samiti, Barshaini|
Jan Jangran evam Vikas Samiti, Haripur, (opposed the Haripur Nallah small hydro project)
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP)
|Intensity||LOW (some local organising)|
|Reaction stage||PREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)|
|Forms of mobilization:||Development of a network/collective action|
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
|Environmental Impacts||Visible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity|
Potential: Noise pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
|Other Environmental impacts||Some environmental impacts have been marked visible because many of the ecological and hydrological disruptions have already occurred due to the under construction 800 MW Parbati II hydropower project downstream of proposed Nakthan. The heavy tunneling and blasting in the area for Parbati II and a series of other HEP in the same river, details of which remain ambiguous, have resulted in several problems, foremost being the drying up of natural springs. According to the data supplied by the State Irrigation and Public Health Department, 12 natural springs(chashmas/jahirus) have completely dried up and water discharge has significantly diminished in at least 10 others due to Parbati II. In the downstream valley of Sainj, many of the IPH schemes are failing due to shortage of water. The fear of impacts of high intensity explosions is greater among those residing close to the tunneling sites proposed for 520 MW Nakthan. (Himdhara, March 2014)|
|Health Impacts||Potential: Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases|
|Socio-economical Impacts||Visible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors|
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
|Other socio-economic impacts||Potential impacts on tourism services and collection of medicinal plants|
|Project Status||Planned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)|
|Conflict outcome / response:||Under negotiation|
|Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:||Not Sure|
|Briefly explain:||Though the local affected population have intervened effectively at several stages, and managed to sustain their position against its construction, much will now depend on the decision of the EAC. However, the recent decision of the EAC has been positive where it has put the Beas basin CEIA study central to any decision on hydropower projects proposed on the basin.|
|Contributor:||Daniela Del Bene, ICTA-UAB ([email protected])|
This is the stretch of Parbati river in between Rudranag waterfall and Nakthan village. Just a few kilometers downstream, the free flowing Parbati river gets interrupted by the reservoir of 800 MW Parbati II (under construction).
800 MW Parbati II
The ongoing construction at the dam site for 800 MW Parbati (Stage II) situated downstream of the proposed 520 MW Nakthan HEP