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Hydro Power in India causing Environmental,Wildlife and Tribal Rights Concerns

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Hydro Power is being aggressively promoted in India due to its cheapness,reliability and cleanliness.Hydro Power in India accounts for around 20-25% of Installed Electricity Capacity and is expected to increase at the same rate.India is massively power deficient with around 10-15% Peak Hour Deficit.This combined with the rapid growth of the Indian Economy has made electricity demand shoot up.The government is trying to heavily support the usage of Green Sources of Energy like Small-scale Hydro,Wind,Solar and Biomass Energy.Large scale Hydro Plants are also being built by India’s large utilities like SJVN,NHPC,NTPC and others.However Hydro Plants are not without their environmental impact on the surrounding habitat and wildlife.Am improper and hurried environmental clearance can lead to huge losses and pain later as can be seen from the recent cancellation of NTPC’s 600-mw Loharinag Pala project in Uttarakhand

Govt scraps NTPC’s Uttarakhand project – Mint

India on Friday scrapped NTPC Ltd’s 600MW hydropower project in Uttarakhand. The project at Loharinag Pala has been hanging fire since early this year, when work on two other projects—the 381MW Bhaironghati project and the 480MW Pala Maneri project—were stopped as well.

The decision was taken at a meeting attended by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, power minister Sushilkumar Shinde and environment minister Jairam Ramesh.

NTPC to review hydropower capacity addition programme – FE

State-owned power generator NTPC seems to be cautious about capacity addition through hydropower projects after the government recently scrapped its 600-mw Loharinag Pala project in Uttarakhand on resistance by some environmental groups.

NTPC has envisaged increasing its installed generation capacity to 75,000 mw from the current 32,000 mw level by 2017 and targeted 17.5% share for hydro generation capacity in its energy mix.

What is the Environmental and Human Rights Impact of Big Hydro Power Plants

Tribal Rights – Large Dam construction especially in populated areas leads to massive Tribal Displacement,Loss of Livelihood and Religious Infringement as potentially sacred Land is occupied by the Government.There has been a massive people’s movement against the Bhakra Nangal Dam Project led by Narmada Bachao Andolan.This protest which was organized by tribal people was against the large scale displacement and inadequate compensation given to the tribals inhabiting the submerged catchment area of the massive dam.The net effect on Hydro Plants is huge cost and time overruns and potential cancellation.

Wildlife Effect – The Fishes are the most affected species from Dam Construction as the normal flow of the river is completely changed form its river character to a lake one.Submergence of land also leads to ecological destruction of the habitat of land based wildlife.

Earthquake Vulnerability – Large Dam Construction has been linked to increased propensity of Earthquakes.Massive Earthquakes in China and Uttarakhand in India were linked to the building of Massive Dams in these countries.Building of Massive Man Made Structures along geologically sensitive areas has not been properly studied and understood till now


While Hydro Power is a necessity for an energy starved and growing economy like India,its effect have to be properly assessed and understood before going on a hydro binge.NTPC lost almost $300 million after its 600 MW project was cancelled 5 years after getting permission.This was done in the face of large scale protest by local groups and NGOs.2 other projects in Uttarkhand have also been rejected leading to more losses.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

One Response so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Jenniferj

    The World Bank estimates that forcible “development-induced displacement and resettlement” now affects 10 million people per year. According to the World Bank an estimated 33 million people have been displaced by development projects such as dams, urban development and irrigation canals in India alone.

    India is well ahead in this respect. A country with as many as over 3600 large dams within its belt can never be the exceptional case regarding displacement. The number of development induced displacement is higher than the conflict induced displacement in India. According to Bogumil Terminski an estimated more than 10 million people have been displaced by development each year.

    Athough the exact number of development-induced displaced people (DIDPs) is difficult to know, estimates are that in the last decade 90–100 million people have been displaced by urban, irrigation and power projects alone, with the number of people displaced by urban development becoming greater than those displaced by large infrastructure projects (such as dams). DIDPs outnumber refugees, with the added problem that their plight is often more concealed.

    This is what experts have termed “development-induced displacement.” According to Michael Cernea, a World Bank analyst, the causes of development-induced displacement include water supply (dams, reservoirs, irrigation); urban infrastructure; transportation (roads, highways, canals); energy (mining, power plants, oil exploration and extraction, pipelines); agricultural expansion; parks and forest reserves; and population redistribution schemes.