Are EIA studies sufficient for projected hydropower development in the Indian Himalayan region?

The Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) with its major river systems has vast potential for hydropower development. Recognizing this potential, the Government of India in its recent initiative for 50,000 MW power generation proposes to develop several hydropower projects in the IHR. Based on the understanding of the prevailing policy framework of the country for hydropower development, a case study of Alaknanda catchment located in Uttarakhand (part of the IHR) is presented. The catchment is endowed with vast hydropower potential; however, in the present study, some of the important social and environmental issues are raised that arise due to dense allocation of hydropower projects in the ecologically sensitive Himalayan region. It is recognized that in the Himalayan region which is important from the conservation point of view, project-specific Environmental Impact Assessment studies are probably insufficient to tackle the environmental issues that are likely to result on account of the proposed hydropower projects.

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