Every hydroelectric project under obligation to release minimum water downstream: NGT

NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal has directed state pollution control boards to ensure the release of minimum water downstream by hydroelectric projects, saying business or commercial interests cannot override the requirement of maintaining riverine ecology.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said every hydroelectric project (HEP) irrespective of the date of its commission is under an obligation to release minimum water downstream

“This is a mandate of ‘Sustainable Development' which is part of the right to life. Accordingly, the tribunal directed compliance by all the Hydro-Electric Projects (HEPs), including in States of Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal (North Region), Assam and Jammu & Kashmir,” the bench said.

Environmental flow describes the quantity, timing, and quality of water flows required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the human livelihoods and wellbeing that depend on these ecosystems.

The tribunal junked the submission of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation seeking exemption from releasing water to maintain 15 per cent e-flow (the quantity and timing of water that is essential for the river to perform its ecological functions) during the lean period.

“We do not find any substance in this submission. The mandate of ‘Sustainable Development' has to be complied. We do not see any hurdle in doing so. Whatever changes are required for the purpose can certainly be done.

“Technical and/or commercial limitations cannot be a ground to ignore the mandate of law. No business or commercial interest can override the requirement of maintaining riverine ecology,” the bench said.

The green panel noted that the Ministry of Jal Shakti has not filed any report even though a period of nine months has passed since its direction.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Himachal Pradesh resident Vijay Kumar seeking enforcement of requirement of releasing minimum water downstream by the HEPs in the state.

Source:- The EconomicTimes

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