MOEFCC Clearance to Devsari HEP Project Sans Scrutiny: Activists

In a strongly worded letter to the minister of environment, forests and climate change, Dr Harsh Vardhan, activists and representatives of people’s movements (Matu Jansangthan) have questioned the cavalier manner in which the MOEFCC has left the critical and sensitive issue of grant of proposed Devsari HEP for grant of Stage-1 Forest Clearance without scrutinising the project in all its entirety. The activists claim that the MOEFCC has shifted the responsibility for clarifying the dispute over 0.754 hectare of forest land to the State Government which seems to have no conclusive answer to the same. The minutes of FAC dated 20-12-2017, can be found on where you can see page no. 16 the grant of sanction for the proposed Devsari project.
Devsari HEP

The text of the letter is reproduced below:

To, January 17, 2018
Dr. Harsh Vardhan
The Minister
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
Mr. C. K. Mishra
The Secretary (EF & CC),
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Indira Paryavaran Bhavan, Jorbagh Road, New Delhi – 110 003

Subject: Request to revoke the recommended Forests Clearance to Devsari Hydro Electric Project (252 MW), Uttarakhand
Dear Sirs,

This is in reference to the recommendation given by the Hon’ble Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) to the proposed 252 MW Devsari Hydroelectric Project on Pinder River in the State Uttarakhand in their meeting dated 20th December 2017.

1. We understand that the proposal for the Stage-I Forest Clearance for the proposed HEP is incomplete because 0.754 hectare of forest land already stands diverted for the already existing Deval HEP.

2. MOEF & CC in its recommendation to the proposed HEP has adopted a hands-off approach when it says that any dispute between Deval HEP and SJVNL is the sole responsibility of the State Government and that MOEF & CC has no responsibility, financial or legal. However, it is the sole duty of the MOEF & CC to consider every proposal in complete detail and recommend the non-forestry use of the proposed forest land only after all the aspects/issues of the proposal have been looked into and dealt with and there is clarity with respect to the same. This project has been dealt with FAC at multiple points of time (specifically, 21-22.12.2012, 28.01.2015, 31.12.2015, 16.02.2016, 28.02.2017 and 30.08.2017) and a perusal of the minutes of these meetings suggests that issue of diversion the 0.754 hectares of forest land has lingered on and State Government and the project proponent for the proposed Devsari HEP (SJVNLtd.) and Deval HEP haven’t reached on any conclusion with respect to the same. In last their last meeting dated 20.12.2017, FAC did not conclusively deliberate on the issue that and instead have shifted the burden to the State Government. However, it is indeed incomprehensible that on what basis the State Government has been given the responsibility when they themselves haven’t reached any conclusion with respect to the issue in question. Such behaviour is unacceptable from the FAC is scrutinise the project in all its aspects.

3. The EIA-EMP Report for the proposed Devsari HEP was made in 2008, however, since then the ecology of the proposed project affected Chamoli regions has changed since then. In 2010 the region experienced large scale landslides and floods; local people’s agitation bear testimony to this fact. Letter and photographs can be produced if demanded. However, EIA has not taken into consideration the above.

4. In June 2013, there was a massive flood in the Pinder River specifically in the proposed project area. Since then the River has changed its course. The devastating floods and landslides led to roads getting disappeared affecting numerous villages. Still the reconstruction work is on-going. However, FAC has completely overlooked these facts.

5. Earlier FAC meetings took the right approach and did not recommend clearance without resolving the issue, and the latest FAC meeting seems to have over ruled the earlier FAC stand without any justification or reason.
All in all FAC has recommended the proposed HEP for grant of Stage-1 Forest Clearance without scrutinizing the project in all its entirety and has shifted the responsibility for clarifying the dispute over 0.754 hectare of forest land to the State Government which seems to have no conclusive answer to the same.

Therefore, we demand the MOEF& CC should not consider the FAC recommendation to the proposed HEP and direct the FAC to reconsider the issue and pass any decision after completely sorting these issues.


Dinesh Mishra, Manju Devi Agri, SurendraRawat, Mahipat Singh Kaithat, Madan Mishra, SubhashPurohit, SurendraParihar, Jiwan Mishra, Vimalbhai and all the members

The letter has been endorsed by Dr. Shekhar Pathak, Historian of Uttarakhand, Editor Pahar

Manoj Mishra, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, Dr. Sudha Vasan, Associate Professor, Delhi University, Dr. Sanjay Kumar,  Associate Professor, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, Delhi, Pushp Jain, EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC), Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, Tarini ManchandaSocial& Environment Film Maker.
*(Shekhar Pathk, Manoj Mishra, Dr. Sudha Vasan, Dr. Sanjay Kumar were the members of “Peoples’ Public Hearing” on the proposed Devsari Hydro Electric Project (252 MW) and Dams on the Pinder River was held at the Sangam Ground, in Deval, Tehsil Tharali, at the confluence of River Kail and River Pinder District Chamoli, Uttarakhand, on 3rd April 2011 and Tarini Manchanda documented this PPH )



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