Beas, a dying free flow Himalayan River – Photo Essay

This photo feature documents some of the dams and hydroelectric projects on the Beas river and the kind of destruction these have caused. The Beas river with a length of 470 kms, flows from Rohtang in Manali to meet the Satluj river in Punjab has an indentified hydropower potential of close to 6000 MW. To tap this potential the Himachal Government has already constructed several projects and large projects amounting to a capacity 3263 MW are under construction in the Beas river basin. The story provides a visual representation of the Beas river today

1.Also known as The Maharana Pratap Sagar, the Pong Dam is the oldest dam to be built on the Beas, and has displaced close to 150000 people. The picture depicts part of the reservoir near Nagrota Suriyan which is home to several migratory birds.
1. Also known as The Maharana Pratap Sagar, the Pong Dam is the oldest dam to be built on the Beas, and has displaced close to 150000 people. The picture depicts part of the reservoir near Nagrota Suriyan which is home to several migratory birds.

 

2.This 66 MW project is going to submerge agriculture fields and grazing lands in 2 districts of Hamirpur & Kangra.  If constructed, this dam along with 2 others planed upstream will spell death for the last stretch of the free flowing Beas.
2. This 66 MW project named Dhaulasidh Project is going to submerge agriculture fields and grazing lands in 2 districts of Hamirpur & Kangra. If constructed, this dam along with 2 others planed upstream will spell death for the last stretch of the free flowing Beas.

 

3.Built in 1977, the Pandoh dam diverts the water of the Beas to the south west through a 38 km (24 mi) long system of tunnels and channels. The water is used for power generation at the Dehar Power House before being discharged into the Sutlej River, connecting both the rivers. The people ousted from their land because of this project are still demanding return of the unused land.
3. Built in 1977, the Pandoh dam diverts the water of the Beas to the south west through a 38 km (24 mi) long system of tunnels and channels. The water is used for power generation at the Dehar Power House before being discharged into the Sutlej River, connecting both the rivers. The people ousted from their land because of this project are still demanding return of the unused land.

 

4.The stillness of the back waters of Pandoh Dam engulfs the mountains and blurs the identity of the Beas as a river.
4. The stillness of the back waters of Pandoh Dam engulfs the mountains and blurs the identity of the Beas as a river.

 

5.Upstream of the Pandoh Dam is the 126 MW Larji Power Project built in 2006. This is the first project that claims to have constructed a fish ladder to facilitate upstream movement of fishes. However, the fish ladder lies dysfunctional and the future of several fish species in the Beas seems bleak.
5. Upstream of the Pandoh Dam is the 126 MW Larji Power Project built in 2006. This is the first project that claims to have constructed a fish ladder to facilitate upstream movement of fishes. However, the fish ladder lies dysfunctional and the future of several fish species in the Beas seems bleak.

 

6.The back water of the Larji Project extends up to Aut and beyond till the confluence of Sainj and Tirthan rivers at Larji village. The deference between the color of the two rivers is indicative of the absence/ presence of construction activities going on in the two valleys. While the clear turquoise blue waters of the Tirthan show that there is little siltation upstream, the turbid waters of the Sainj speaks about the volume of silt coming into the stream as a result of heavy construction for hydro power projects.
6. The back water of the Larji Project extends up to Aut and beyond till the confluence of Sainj and Tirthan rivers at Larji village. The deference between the color of the two rivers is indicative of the absence/ presence of construction activities going on in the two valleys. While the clear turquoise blue waters of the Tirthan show that there is little siltation upstream, the turbid waters of the Sainj speaks about the volume of silt coming into the stream as a result of heavy construction for hydro power projects.

 

7.Muck dumping along the Sainj river by Parbati Hydro Power Projects.
7. Muck dumping along the Sainj river by Parbati Hydro Power Projects.

 

8.Dam site of the 501 MW Parbati-III Project on the Sainj River. The Project has a 9.91 Km diversion tunnel also near Larji Village. Parbati-III is one part of the Integrated Parbati Project. The 3 Parbati Projects put together will have a capacity of 2051 MW.
8. Dam site of the 501 MW Parbati-III Project on the Sainj River. The Project has a 9.91 Km diversion tunnel also near Larji Village. Parbati-III is one part of the Integrated Parbati Project. The 3 Parbati Projects put together will have a capacity of 2051 MW.

 

9.Just upstream of  Parbati-III Project is the power house of the 800 MW Parbati-II. Bumper to bumper projects, where the power house of the one is followed by the dam and head race tunnel of the other project are now common in all the river valleys of Himachal Pradesh.
9. Just upstream of Parbati-III Project is the power house of the 800 MW Parbati-II. Bumper to bumper projects, where the power house of the one is followed by the dam and head race tunnel of the other project are now common in all the river valleys of Himachal Pradesh.

 

10.The power house of the under construction 800 MW Parbati-II Hydro Power Project. This ambitious project planes to bring the water of Parbati river from Pulga village 35 kms away.
10. The power house of the under construction 800 MW Parbati-II Hydro Power Project. This ambitious project planes to bring the water of Parbati river from Pulga village 35 kms away.

 

11.The dam-site of the Parbati-II at Barshaini. The construction of this project has been going on for the last 10-15 years.
11. The dam-site of the Parbati-II at Barshaini. The construction of this project has been going on for the last 10-15 years.

 

12.The 4.8 MW Aleo II hydro project situated between village Aleo and Prini now in a dismantled state. The reservoir of the newly built Aleo II exploded during its very first trial run on January 12, 2014.
12. The 4.8 MW Aleo II hydro project situated between village Aleo and Prini now in a dismantled state. The reservoir of the newly built Aleo II exploded during its very first trial run on January 12, 2014.

Sumit is a an amateur photographer and member of Himdhara, Environment Research and Action Collective

5 Comments

  • I think giving stress on solar energy would decrease our dependency on hydropower. Really sad to see these images.

  • these the project of Parasite like corporation who bribe the local panchayats and state govt’s and only people of concerned states can kill such parasites….govt’s have no will nor courage to kick these parasites….it is only up to the People of Dev Bhumi both in Uttarakhand and Himachal and other Mountain states….now these Parasites are heading to Nepal and Bhutan….even in European countries like Ukraine and others people are fed up with the presence of such parasites that drain out blood of Mountains……

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