Government officials, academicians, private entrepreneurs and representatives of NGOs from across Uttarakhand are expected to attend a conference on green norms for Small Hydro Power on Friday. The conference is being organised at the National Forest Library and Information Centre in Forest Research Institute by the New Delhi-based research and advocacy body Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
According to Souparno Banerjee of the CSE, Small Hydro Power, which is becoming popular in Uttarakhand, is looked upon as an environmentally benign, green energy source. However, a CSE analysis shows it can have severe environmental impacts. The absence of environmental regulations or norms to check these impacts is exacerbating the negative impacts. What this means for the State of Uttarakahnd is that the State might be losing large tracts of its pristine environment to the practise of a technology which is touted as eco-friendly.
India is building Small Hydro Power (SHP) plants at a rapid scale. As of March 2013, there were around 1,000 SHP plants having an installed capacity of more than 3,600 MW. Another 2,100 MW of installed capacity is being planned in the 12th Five Year Plan period.
A recent analysis by CSE shows that these relatively ‘greener’ plants have environmental impacts, especially when they are set up in ecologically sensitive areas. India has no significant environmental norms for the SHP sector, said Banerjee.
The conference in Dehradun is held to discuss this rapidly growing sector, its as yet little-known effects on the environment and the need for creating safeguards to avoid negative environmental and social impacts. CSE’s analysis and report on the sector will also be released on this occasion.
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