Sunday, 15 April 2012

Letters to NRGBA 16-04-12


To,

Dr. Manmohan Singh
The Prime Minister of India
& Chairman of
The National River Ganga Basin Authority,
Prime Ministers Office,
7, Race Course Road, New Delhi 110001 AND

All members of NRGBA
c/o Union Ministry of Environment and Forests
Paryavarahan Bhawan, CGO Complex,
New Delhi 110001


Ref: Do not Hinder the River Pinder
The only Un-dammed major confluence and tributary of National River Ganga in Uttarakhand

Respected Sirs & Madams,

We would like to bring to your attention the issue of saving River Pinder, which is the only major tributary of National River Ganga in Uttarakhand that remains un-dammed. The Pinder River originates from Pindari Glasier in Kumaun, Uttarakhand.

Meaning of Ganga
Uttarakhand is the motherland of National River Ganga. In Uttarakhand, the Ganga gets its name at Devprayag whereBhagirathi GangaandVishnupadi Alaknanda Gangameet with all their tributaries. The Viashnupadi Alaknandaganga has 5 PRAYAGs/ confluences named-

Vishanuprayag (Alaknanda-Dhouli); Nandaprayag (Nandakini-Alaknanda); Karnaprayag (Pinder-Alaknanda); Rudraprayag (Mandakini-Alaknanda) and Devprayag (Alaknanda-Bhagirathi)

Map of Dams on National Ganga River in Uttarakhand is attached as Annexure-1

Fortunately, Karnaprayag is yet to be destroyed and Pinder River is still enjoying its uninterrupted free flow.

Cultrual significance of Pinder River and Karnaprayag
The Pinder valley is the path of the Jaat yatra, the Raj Jaat yatra of Nanda Devi, which has been going on since centuries in the region and is of huge cultural and religious significance to not only the locals, but for the Pilgrims all over the world. Nanda Devi (goddess) Raajraat Yatra, also called the Maha Kumbh yatra (pilgrimage), see details in Attached Annexure-2

Pinder Valley Hills are not stable: Landslides ongoing phenomena

Pinder valley has seen the devastation due to frequent landslides, the latest events occurred during monsoon 2010. The whole Pinder valley is vulnerable to landslides, specifically three Blocks of Deval, tharali and Narayanbagar where all these dams are proposed are specially vulnerable, see Attached Annexure-3



Dams and People in Pinder Valley
The people are opposing these dams in the Pinder Valley from the planning stage. The peoples' anger came out in many ways repeatedly, but specially at the environmental public hearings. In the first environmental public hearing for the proposed Devsari HEP (252 MW) at Village Kulsari on 13 October 2009, people were not informed of the public hearing, and they sat in dharna. The hearing was thus, suspended. The second public hearing at village Deval on 22 July 2010 had the police and administration working together to do anything in their power to conduct a public hearing, even if it was in violation of the letter and spirit of these hearings. But the people again did not allow this hearing to take place, and this led to its postponement. Before the third public hearing was held on 20 January 2011, the people received news that the hearing was to be held in Tharali. Instead the hearing was held in Chepdu village, where public was not allowed to enter, or express their views, they were barricaded from the area.

The local communities with supporting organisations organised a "Peoples' Public Hearing" and called nationally renowned environmentalists and experts to its panel. These included:  Prof. Meher Engineer, Mr. Manoj Mishra, Dr. Shekhar Pathak, Dr. Sudha Vasan and Dr. Sanjay Kumar. This public hearing was held on the 3 April 2011 at the confluence of River Kail and Pinder. Over 2000 people came from all the villages to be affected by and surrounding the proposed Devsari HEP in the Pinder valley.

Conclusion of "Peoples' Public Hearing" Panel is --




Accordingly it is our considered view that the project to dam the river Pinder must not  

be imposed on the people of Pinder valley in the face of their vehement and  


widespread rejection of the same.

In view of these far reaching and significant issues for the people of Pinder Valley, Uttarakhand the whole nation, and future generations, we urge you, the Prime Minster of India and the Chairperson of the National Ganga River Basin Authority and all other repected member of NRGBA to take some monumental decisions;

  • The National Ganga River Basin Authority must leave the Pinder River undammed in its entirety.
  • The National Ganga River Basin Authority must put a stay on all the dam projects proposed on the River Pinder.

With best regards

On behalf of Matu Jansangthan and Bhuswami Sangharsh Samiti

Vimalbhai, Subhash Purohit, Saumya, Dinesh Purohit, Mamta Shah, Neema Parihar,

Madan Mishra, Balwant Agri, Dinesh Mishra, Surendra Parihar, Bir Singh,

Mahipat Singh Kaithat, K.D. Mishra, Rajendra Singh and all other Sathi-Sathine


Attachments- 1-Map of Dams on National Ganga River in Uttarakhand.
2-On cultural Aspect
3- Pinder Valley Hills are not stable


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Annexure-2

Cultural aspect of Pinder Valley


The sacred river Pinder is the only river in Uttarakhand that has not been dammed as yet. It is one of the main tributaries of River Ganga. This Ganga is supposed to free the departed souls and hence, it was named Pinder, where pind means death rites. This river meets Alaknanda at Karnaprayag, and then Alaknanda meets Mandakini at Rudraprayag and finally, meets Bhagirathi at Devprayag to form the Ganga, as the river is called from there on. This Ganga finally meets the Ganga Sagar and thus, frees the soul. The sangam at Deval is the only sangam in the country where the waters of 5 rivers meet- the Karganga, the Pinderi ganga, Saraswati ganga, Pandiganga, Pushpaganga, That is why it is called the Panch Mahaprayag, which is no less revered than Badrinath or Kedarnath. The Pinder valley is also the path of the Jaat yatra, the Raj Jaat yatra of Nanda Devi, which have been going on since centuries in the region and is of cultural and religious significance to not only the locals, but to Hindus all over the world. The sangam at Deval is the spot where pilgrims must bathe while on the Nanda Devi (goddess) Raajraat Yatra, also called the Maha Kumbh yatra (pilgrimage).The Pinder valley is also home to the Bhramakapaal Shila stone, which according to Hindu mythology is found at only two places- Badrinath, and Deval.


Annexure-3




Pinder Valley Hills are not stable: Landslide is ongoing phenomena

The massive landslides occurred in the whole Uttarakhand in monsoon 2010. It is widely known that Uttarakhand has been classified in Seismic Zones IV and V, which means that it is under constant danger of earthquakes. Due to the increasing number of dam projects, many areas have become more vulnerable to landslides and seismic activities. Matu and other affected people had written to the Geological Survey of India (GSI) regarding the Pinder valley in the Chamoli district. The villages around the Pinder River have been the sites of many landslides this year and it is of the utmost urgency that this area is be surveyed.

The extent of devastation caused by the landslide has been seriously underestimated by the administration. For example; the village of Sunau was established on top of the ruins of a past landslide. Around 150 years ago, a major landslide wiped out the entire village. Later people from other areas came and settled down here. In the year of 2010 landslides again put the residents at risk.  The arable land below and around the prime village of the Suna gram panchayat has been completely damaged by the landslides. All the local water resources like gadheras (streams) and small waterfalls necessary for these villages have been badly hit by landslides as well.  At Padmalla, a girl lost her life when her house collapsed. The cow and goat perished with her. The condition of the Kunnipartha village is even worse. It needs to be completely rehabilitated. These are only few examples, the situation of whole Pinder valley hills are under threat of landslide.

Due to the fact, that if the Devsari HEP is to be built at Nandkesri its tunnel has to underpass the villages of Paingad, Sunau, Devalgad, Soona, Tharali, Kunnipartha, Chepdu, Nandkesari, etc, all the way till Paithani. Therefore, there is an urgent need of a full geological investigation of these project-affected areas.
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To,


Dr. Manmohan Singh
The Prime Minister of India
& Chairman of
The National River Ganga Basin Authority,
Prime Ministers Office,
7, Race Course Road, New Delhi 110001 AND

All members of NRGBA
c/o Union Ministry of Environment and Forests
Paryavarahan Bhawan, CGO Complex,
New Delhi 110001



Ref.: "Save Ganga" –– the essence of Indian Culture & Society.

Respected Sirs/Madam,

We at Matu Jansangthan have been working in the Ganga and Yamuna valley, Uttarakhand for more than a decade. Our aim is to protect the environment and peoples' rights to their natural resources. We have deep concerns for our mother, the river Ganga, and the way in which the course and state of the river is damaged by hydro power projects. We are primarily concerned with the way in which these projects are given clearances..

We find that the National River Ganga Basin Authority, which is headed by the Prime Minister of India and members such as yourself is not fulfilling its real purpose. We find that nothing has come out of the efforts to save Mother Ganga till date.

Meaning of National River Ganga
Uttarakhand is the motherland of National River Ganga. In Uttarakhand, the Ganga gets its name at Devprayag whereBhagirathi GangaandVishnupadi Alaknanda Gangameet with all their tributaries. Viashnupadi Alaknandaganga has 5 PRAYAGs/ confluences named-
Vishanuprayag (Alaknanda-Dhouli); Nandaprayag (Nandakini-Alaknanda);
Karnaprayag (Pinder-Alaknanda); Rudraprayag (Mandakini-Alaknanda) and
Devprayag (Alaknanda-Bhagirathi)
Map of Dams on National Ganga River in Uttarakhand is attached as Annexure-1 & 2
The impact of commissioned and under construction HEPs puts the National River Ganga Valley in grave danger.(Annexure-3)
HEPs are short term sources of energy while the National River Ganga is not only an ecosystem, but also one of the main birth places of Indian culture. This is evidenced by the fact that the first Prime Minister of India, the Late Pt. Jawaher Lal Nehruji considered the Gangaji a Historically important icon of the Nation. There are other permanent sources for genrating energy, these should be consider.(Annexure-4)

We believe that astha or faith is an integral part of humans and our relationship with nature, and it is important not to ignore but to conserve this sentiment as it has led to the health of our environment. For this reason, it is integral to understanding issues of the environment, ecology and of peoples' rights to natural resources.

Development planing can not be based on the exploitation of natural resources, it must be ecologically balanced. In this way, the development of the future must incorporate what we have learnt from past ecological mistakes.

The flow, and life of the National River Ganga are in danger with the construction of big dams, thus the NRGBA cannot allow the construction of several gigantic dams to threaten our rivers.

The need of the hour is to take bold steps to preserve the Mother Ganga as whole.
Thus, we request you to:-

  • Spare Gangaji from the devastation that will be caused by under construction and planned Hydro Electric Projects.
  • To ensure this, repeal the Environment and Forest clearances of all Hydro Electric projects on the 'Bhagirathi Ganga' and 'Vishnupadi Alaknanda Ganga,' as well as on all their tributaries.
  • Conduct a comprehensive credible and independent study on the impacts of HEPs and the ways in which we can protect Gangaji.
  • The terms and conditions of conducting this Study should be made public. Peoples' organizations, independent environmentalists and social activists should be the part of the report making process.
  • The recent "Study on Assessment of Cumulative Impact of Hydropower Projects in Alaknanda and Bhagirathi Basins up to Dev Prayag" done by the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee is incorrect and should be abandoned immediately.
  • Stop all construction of HEPs on Gangaji till aforementioned study is completed.
  • 130 km of the Bhagirathi ganga was scheduled to be declares an Ecosenstive Zone. This should not be delayed.

We hope you will respond to these concerns immediately.
Sincerly yours,

Vimal Bhai (convener), Puran Singh Rana, Rajendra Singh Negi, Narendra Pokhriyal

Attachments:
  1. A English Map of Hydro Electric Projects on Bhagirathi Gangaji in Uttarakhand.
  2. A English Map of Hydro Electric Projects on Vishnupadi Alaknanda Gangaji in Uttarakhand.
  3. "Impacts of HEP in Ganga Valley" A study done by Matu Jansangthan
  4. Permanent sources of Energy
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Annexure-4
PERMANENT SOURCES OF ENERGY, LIKE:-

  1. The Uttarakhand State has other permanent sources of power like- Wind energy, biomass energy etc. Why are they not being tapped?
  2. Solar, wind and biomass are big source of energy to fulfill at least village level demand. If the "Gharats" (Water Mills) are properly implemented, then the Uttarakhand villages will get a permanent source of employment, irrigation and electricity as well.
  3. The Panchayats or village level committee could also be kept incharge of such small projects.
  4. For point nor. 2 & 3, the need of tacnical assistance and funds must be arrange by Centre Govt. and State of UK Govt. NRGBA may direct for this.

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