Shimla: Facing opposition for green activists and villagers, the Ministry of Forest & Environment’s (MoEF) Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) directive for ensuring release of more water after damming River Satluj has forced scaling down of the 775 MW Luhri hydroelectric project.
Highly placed sources among those laying down the design and preparing a detailed project report with SJVN, the public sector company executing Luhri project, disclosed that EAC has asked for ensuring release of 25 % river flow in lean season and 30 % when the river is in full flow.
Earlier the project based on 380 cubic meters per second flow was designed to generate 775 MW of power. With the EAC missive forcing release of larger quantity of water, the project engineers hold that instead of earlier twin tunnel plan, now only one tunnel of 10.5 meter diameter and 38 Km length would be needed to harness available 588 MW of hydel potential.
With the project likely to affect the ecology of about 60 Kms of river length, the EAC has asked for increasing the mandatory water flow past the damming site.
Project surveyors and a geologist team are working overtime to redraw the maps and prepare the detailed project report that is to be submitted by month end, sources revealed.
When contacted, NL Sharma, director SJVN said, “we are in the process of redrawing the designs for executing of Luhri project.”
Satluj Bachao Jan Sangharsh Samiti (SBJSS), an organization of Luhri project affected villages and Himdara, an NGO have been opposing the project over environmental issues, particularly the impact of twin tunnel construction in fragile Himalayan geology.
In the letter to the environment ministry, the activists had mentioned that diverting the river would destroy over 60 Kms of ecology in a course of what is already an over-dammed river.
The activists also claim that about 10,000 people including landowners in over hundred villages are being affected by this large project.
The Luhri project is designed as a run of the river project by building a small dam near Nirath village and an underground powerhouse at Marola village near Sunni.
For executing the project, a special purpose vehicle is to be constituted with 49 percent equity of Himachal government and 51 % central government share.
Other than equity, the state would be entitled to 12 % free power and 1 percent of power cost would be spent for local area development.
The Luhri project is located downstream of 442 MW Rampur project and upstream of 800 MW Kol Dam project on the Himalayan river.