No to hydel project

The Union ministry of environment and forests (MEF) has refused environmental clearance to the 500 mw Bodhghat hydroelectric project on the Indravati river in the Bastar district of Madhya Pradesh on the recommendation of the M N Buch committee appointed by the ministry to look into the project.

The Bodhghat project required 13,783 ha of land including 5,704 hectares of forest and would have affected 38 villages, nearly 80 per cent of which comprise tribals and backward castes. The project was initially given environment clearance and approved by the Planning Commission in 1979, but the state government sought permission to divert forest land for non-forest purposes 4 years later.

The Buch committee has refused clearance mainly on 3 grounds -- that the unique Indravati riparian system, dotted with islands which shelter a wide variety of wildlife, would be threatened by the submergence of the islands following dam construction; that 80 lakh trees and 30 lakh bamboo clumps mixed with sal will have to be chopped; and that the project will severely affect the wild buffalo habitat in the Bhairamgarh sanctuary.

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