A decision was made by JP Negi , Principal Secretary of Power in Shimla on June 23rd 2006 which upheld the Government ban on Mini Hydel developments in the Tirthan Valley. Mr. Negi ruled that Swastik Hydel Company of Calcutta did not fulfill the requirements of the Government show cause notice of December 2005. Very compelling arguments by JP were given to protect the Tirthan valley environment, the GHNP, endangered species such as Musk deer and Western Trygopan. The important trout Fisheries for which the Tirthan Valley is known worldwide is also protected.
In addition Negi’s decision expanded the ban to eight other hydel companies which had been given MOU’s along the Tirthan as he was very concerned over cumulative environmental impacts of multiple hydels. The degradation of Sainj River due to Parvati hydroelectric project and other hydels were also noticed as a serious concern.
Reference was made to the Two tributaries of the Tirthan such as Jibhi and Hirrub Nala. But it was still not clear whether the entire Tirthan Catchments including the Jibhi and Hirrub Nala were also included in the decision. The Tirthan and its tributaries such as Jibhi and Hirrub Nala are the only river and watershed left in the Kullu valley which have not been dammed. The Tirthan river habitat is very important as a sensitive environment which needs to be protected baseline for future understanding of natural processes verses hydel impacts.
Mr. Padum Singh of the Save Seraj Tirthan Nala Committee welcomed the decision of the Government. However the committee is concerned that the entire catchments of the Tirthan including Jibhi and Hirrub Nala all be protected. Says Mr. Padum “You cant just save the head and not the body”. The Nala’s are a part of one living ecosystem and must be saved together.