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Neglecting Warnings of Environmental Groups, Studies, HP Govt to Sign MoU for 5 More Hydro Power Projects

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Five more SJVNL hydroproject in himachal Pradesh

Shimla-Ignoring the appeals of the environmental groups and studies indicating devastating effects of hydro power projects on Himalayan ecology and on the lives of the locals, the State government of Himachal Pradesh has decided to allocate five more projects.

An Environmental group Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective had in June 2019 released their report titled “The Hidden Cost of Hydropower” to highlight the risks associated with hydro power construction, especially in Himalayan regions like Himachal Pradesh.  Echoing the fragility of the Himalayan region due to geological instability and climate change-related disasters like flash floods and cloud bursts, the report had highlighted the role of construction activities that accentuate this fragility.

However, in a meeting Chaired by the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur on July 6, 2019, the government has decided to sign 5 MoUs with SJVNL.

“Proper memorandum of understanding (MoU) would be signed for five hydro power projects most likely in the month of August, this year, which have been allocated to the SJVNL,

Chief Minister said.

These projects include Luhri stage-1 (210 MW), Sunni Dam (382 MW), Dhola Sidh (66 MW), Luhri, stage-2 (172 MW) and Jangi Thopan (780 MW).

“These five hydro power projects have the potential of investment of Rs. 15,000 crores and would provide employment to around 8,000 people,”

he said.

He also suggested that the Chenab river basin would also be developed as it has a capacity of 3000 MW hydro-power generation. The five projects allocated in the Chenab basin have been cancelled and now the government would consider the viability before further allocation of these projects and providing concession to the investors, he said. 

The Chief Minister termed the decision as best possible efforts to boost investment in the hydro power sector. He claimed that this sector is not only an engine of growth but also has immense potential to provide employment. He said the government would expedite the pace of execution of power projects, which had slowed down during the last few years.

The above-mentioned report of the Himdhara Collective had also found that over the last few years, increasing evidence has emerged that hydro power production may not be so ‘clean and green’ after all.  This report, that compiled primary and secondary pieces of evidence of the impacts triggered by underground construction for the run of the river (ROR) hydropower projects, highlighted the issues of environmental hazards and risks involved.

The Report had also mentioned that there are severe environmental hazards linked to the construction of these projects, which the government was not ready to admit. As a result of this deliberate neglection, the villagers, rivers, local water sources, farming lands, local wildlife etc. were suffering. Houses of people were destroyed due to seepage of water from tunnels of hydropower projects and they were forced to evacuate.

The Report had also said that the Ministry of Power had issued an order in March 2019 recognizing hydro power projects with a capacity of more than 25 MW as ‘renewable’ source of energy, thus eligible for further subsidies. Himdhara’s report, however, had brought out that hydro projects do not deserve the ‘green’ tag and the government should stop further subsiding the sector, especially large projects.

You can read the complete Report Here

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Environment

HP Electric Vehicle Policy 2019 – Govt Proposes 100 percent Transition to EVs by 2030

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HP Electric Vehicle Policy - 2019

Shimla- Himachal Pradesh Electric Vehicle Policy- 2019 is to establish in the state, informed Chief Secretary Dr. Shrikant Baldi during a meeting held on September 18, 2019, regarding the framing of the draft for the policy.

Electric Vehicle policy is targeted at achieving 100 percent transition to Electric Vehicles by 2030 in Himachal in alignment with United Nation’s sustainable development goals and vision of Government of India, Baldi said. It’s intended to save the environment, accelerate demand for EV’s, promote sustainable transport system and to create public-private charging infrastructure for EV’s.

The policy also aims to make Himachal Pradesh a model state for Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption and to provide sustainable, safe, eco-friendly, inclusive and integrated mobility, Baldi informed.

He further added that the policy is being framed to create a conducive atmosphere for a shift from Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) to EV’s, and to encourage the use of hybrid EV’s by the Government entities during the transition period and to create newer employment opportunities.

Under this policy, the promotion of adoption of EV technology would be done by the way of providing fiscal and non-fiscal incentives. It would promote the creation of dedicated infrastructure for charging of EV’s through various incentives as per standards notified for Public Charging Infrastructure by Ministry of Power, Government of India guidelines.

He informed that a viable business model will be developed for private players to set up EV charging stations and infrastructure/. Provision for charging spots in commercial buildings such as hotels and shopping malls have also been included in the policy. Across the state, domestic rate of electrical power will be charged if an electric vehicle is charged at domestic user facility.

In public charging facility and commercial charging stations “Non-Domestic, Non-Commercial” rate of electric power would be applicable. However, the Himachal Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission shall be the final authority to determine the rate of electrical power to EV charging stations from time to time.

Himachal Pradesh Electricity Board Limited has been designated as State Nodal Agency for setting up charging infrastructure for EV in the State by the department of Multi-Purpose Projects Power. The State nodal agency shall fix the ceiling of the service charges to be charged by the public or commercial charging stations.

The policy also aims to support local manufacturing for which the State Government would provide incentives to EV batteries and related components manufacturing and disposal in the State. The incentives would be provided to eligible enterprises as per Himachal Pradesh Industrial Policy as applicable from time to time.

A State-level High Power Committee was also constituted for monitoring the implementation of this policy and for development of procedures and modalities where required.

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Solar Power Plants in Himachal Pradesh to be Set up Soon, Rs. 1000 Crore MoUs Singed: HP Govt

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Solar Power Plants in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-To set Solar Power Plants in Himachal Pradesh, the State Government has signed two Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) worth Rs. 1000 crore with two companies.

One MoU worth Rs. 600 crore was signed between State Government and Renew Energy Pvt. Ltd. through Director of the Company Prabhat Kumar Mishra for setting up of 150 MW Solar Power Plant in the State to produce green energy. This project is proposed to start production from 2021 and provide employment to over 1000 persons

While another MoU worth Rs. 400 crore was also signed with CSE Development (India) Pvt. Ltd. for setting up of 100 MW  Solar Plant to produce renewal energy by Director Business Development & Head Open Access Vikram Madan on behalf of the company.  This project on completion would provide employment to about 700 persons.

On behalf of the State Government, the MoUs were signed by Principal Secretary, Power and Renewal Energy Resources Prabodh Saxena.  

The government said the projects have direct employment potential of about 1700 people besides self-employment avenues to thousands of people.

The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said the State Government would facilitate the companies to obtain necessary permissions and clearances etc. from the concerned authorities at the earliest so that work on these projects could be started soon. He said that work to set up the plants would be initiated soon as land had already been identified in Una and Kangra districts.

He said that Union Government has fixed the target of harnessing about 99533 MW solar power in the country through renewal solar energy out of which the State has been asked to achieve the target of exploitation of 776 MW solar power by the year 2022.

 

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Environment

Video: Leopard Sighting in Shimla on NH-5 Near Kanlog

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Leopard sighting in Shimla city

Shimla-Leopard sightings in residential areas and on roadsides in Shimla is becoming frequent. Last week, a leopard was spotted near Kanlog on Tutikandi-Dhalli bypass. The leopard was captured on a mobile camera by some commuters. The leopard disappeared into the adjoining forest later.

Similarly, a sighting was reported by a local from Chaura Maidan area very recently.

Mostly, the leopards enter residential areas looking for dogs. Littering and inappropriately disposed of garbage attracts dogs and dogs attract leopards.

However, their sighting creates panic among residents. The Forest Department has been trying to capture these leopards by placing cages in the areas from where reports of sighting were received. However, so far, the department did not get any success.

Wildlife experts advise people to not bend down or look into the eyes of a leopard directly in case they encounter one. Bending down or looking directly into their eyes are perceived by these animals as preparedness for attack or a challenge.

Also, as per the experts, leopards are shy animals and avoid humans. They prefer to hunt down prey that doesn’t weigh more than 30-40 kg. That’s why a person in a crouching position would appear like a smaller animal to leopards and the chances are high that they would attack. This also explains why children are more vulnerable than adults.

Make sure that there is no garbage littered near residential areas to avoid attracting dogs.

To be safe, while crossing vulnerable areas, playing loud music on the mobile phone is also advisable. In that case, a leopard won’t mistake a human for another animal.

If you have pets, keep them in enclosed spaces after it gets dark. Do not form a crowd on seeing a leopard. It would frighten the animal and make an attack imminent, say experts.

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