Compensation of 50L on Tehri Hydro Development Cor Ltd

Vimal Bhai . THDC & Ors. (O.A 197 of 2016)
Project Name: Vishnugad-Peepalkoti HEP (444 MW)
Rivers: Alaknanda River
Agency: Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC)
Environmental Clearance granted on 22-8-2007
Case in National Green Tribunal on the issue of environmental violation. {Dumping of the construction debris directly into the river}

The National Green Tribunal (Principal Bench) imposed Environmental Compensation of 50 Lacks on the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Ltd (‘THDC’). for disposal of debris and muck excavated out of construction of a road from the power house of the World Bank funded Vishnugad Peepalkoti Hydroelectric Project till the Alaknanda River. The judgment as delivered in open court on 13th April, 2017 in New Delhi by NGT Chaiperson Swatenter Kumar in the matter of Vimal Bhai v. Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Ltd. The petition in this matter was moved to the NGT by Environmental Activist Vimal Bhai, who was being represented by Advocate Rahul Choudhary of Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment.

The said construction led to huge amounts of muck and debris which were directly being dumped into the river, in violation of the law of the land including the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 as well as the Environmental Clearance conditions granted to the THDC for construction and operation of the Hydroelectric Project. The said unchecked dumping increases the risk of landslides, destabilization of slopes and damage to the river flow, as was noted in the Environmental Assessment Report prepared for the THDC Hydroelectric Project.

Noting the gross negligence in disposing muck and debris accumulated due to the project as per a prescribed muck disposal plan and the lack of due monitoring of river flow upstream and down stream of the project, the NGT not only imposed compensation of 50 Lacks but mandated that 20 Lacks out of the said amount is to be paid by the subcontractors hired for the construction, being carried out since October, 2015. Additionally, the Tribunal imposed an absolute restriction on Muck Dumping in the Alaknanda River by the Project Proponent i.e THDC. More so, as a further deterrent, the NGT made it clear that in case the muck dumping continues, an additional cost of 25 Lacks would be imposed on the THDC. The Tribunal also directed the project proponent to maintain computerized records of water samples upstream and downstream as a precautionary measure, much needed in light of the unpredictable climatic conditions which affect the Alaknanda and other rivers in the State of Uttarakhand.

Today’s judgement of National Green Tribunal on environmental degradation involved in Vishnugad-pepalkoti project is highly important and is a lesson for dam companies, World Bank, State governments and Central government.

In the course of than a year long legal battle, THDC kept repeating it’s claim of following all the environment rules and displacement and rehabilitation laws. It kept claiming that it never discharged muck in the river. But the legal bench under the Honorable justice Swatantra Singh, based on the truth finding done in the valley, held THDC guilty of discharging muck in the river.
This judgment is one of its kind and the very first against any dam company in Uttarakhand. This judgement proves that Namami Ganga project, valued 20 thousand crores, had been incompetent in conserving and preserving the natural course and state of the main river and it’s tributaries. This project has failed badly in it’s aim of protecting Ganga and it’s tributaries.

THDC kept claiming that it had never violated any environmental rules or rehabilitation laws in the Vishnugad-peepalkoti project.
Matu Jansanghatan from the start kept questioning these hollow claims of THDC.
This project is funded by World Bank and both World Bank and the dam company had been declaring that the best policies are in use in the said project.
Recently a film ‘Blind Spot’ was made with the help of Matu Jansanghatan which exposed the hollow claims of the dam company. Based on the direct interactions with the local people of the valley, this film’s credibility was questioned by THDC.
Today the NGT order brought the truth out and gave us much needed support and motivation.
Now this fact is established that dam companies violate environmental laws and they are able to do it due to the patronage of the government.
If the central ministry would had been vigilant on the clearances given to the companies then the damage to the environment and the people of the valley could had been minimized.
But due to the negligence of the government, dam companies do not follow environmental rules and play with the laws. The outcome of this is visible in the form of environmental degradation and exploitation of the local people.
The intensity of the disaster of June 15-16, 2013 in Uttarakhand was increased due to the non compliance of environmental rules by the dam companies.
The same happened in Vishnuprayag and Srinagar project. In Vishnugad-peepalkoti project case it is proved that how the habit of ignoring environmental laws by the dam companies are critical to the environment and people residing in the area.
Water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation minister Ms. Uma Bharti also need to pay immediate attention to the aim of preserving and rejuvenating Ganga.
Dam companies are a big hindrance in Ganga rejuvenation.
Ganga cannot be rejuvenated by just repeating the words Namami Ganga.
Instead the rejuvenation work should also be concentrated on the place from where the Ganga originates.
The order of Nanital High court (20th March 2017) also gives direction to save and preserve the rivers and pointed out the bad state of the rivers and the need to work on their conservation.
We are thankful to NGT for this rational judgment.

We demand – that the state government, central government and World Bank, keeping this judgment in mind, should strengthen their vigilance bodies not just for Vishnugad-peepalkoti project but for all the hydro power project being run in the state of Uttarakhand and in the Himalayas, so that the natural flow of river is not disturbed and the river bed is preserved.



The Tehri Dam & Hydro Electric Project had initially been accorded Investment Clearance by the Planning Commission in June, 1972 for implementation by the Government of U.P., with an installed generating capacity of 600 MW. The State Government commenced the construction of the Project in 1978. Subsequently, in 1983, the proposed Installed Capacity of the Project was increased by the State Government to 1000 MW.  In view of the shortage of funds for implementation of the Project in the State sector, it was decided in Nov.,1986 to implement the Tehri project as a Joint Venture of the Govt. of India and Govt. of U.P. through financial and technical assistance from erstwhile USSR.  In Nov.,1986, an agreement on economic and technical co-operation between the Govt. of India and Govt. of USSR was signed, which interallia included execution of the 2400 MW Tehri Hydro Power Complex comprising 1000 MW Tehri Dam & Hydro Power Plant, 400 MW Koteshwar Dam & Hydro Power Plant and 1000 MW Tehri Pumped Storage Plant. This agreement envisaged financing in the form of credit amounting to 1000 million Roubles from USSR.  The Government had also approved seeking the technical and financial assistance from the then USSR for implementing the Tehri Power Complex. However, with the disintegration of USSR, the financial assistance from USSR was not available.


THDC, a Joint Venture Corporation of the Govt. of India and Govt. of U.P., was incorporated as a Limited Company under the Companies Act,1956, in July’88, to develop, operate and maintain the Tehri Hydro Power Complex and other Hydro Projects. The works were handed over to THDC in June 1989.

The equity portion the Project is being shared by Govt. of India & Govt. of U.P in the ratio of 75:25.  The Corporation has an authorised share capital of Rs.4000 cr.  The Government approved the implementation of Tehri Dam and HPP Stage-I (1000 MW) in March,1994, along with the essential works of Pumped Storage Plant and committed works of Koteshwar HEP. Other components of the Tehri Power Complex, viz., Koteshwar Project, and the Pumped Storage Plant, were envisaged to be taken up at a later stage
The Koteshwar HEP (400 MW) was approved for implementation by the Government in April’2000. Investment approval has been accorded by the Government in July’06 to the Tehri PSP(1000 MW), the first Pumped Storage Scheme in the Central sector which would utilize the Tehri & Koteshwar reservoirs as the requisite upstream & downstream reservoirs.

Govt. of India has accorded Investment Approval for execution of 444 MW Vishnugad Pipalkoti Hydro Electric Project (VPHEP) on River Alaknanda in Aug’ 2008.  Govt. of Uttarakhand has also entrusted Hydro Projects to THDC in Bhagirathi, Alaknanda and Sarda Valleys in Uttarakhand, totaling to 760 MW.  Govt. of Uttarakhand has accorded In-principle approval to allot Kishau Multi Purpose Project (600 MW) on river Tons, a tributary of Yamuna. Govt. of India has given approval for updation of DPR of the Project by THDC. THDC has entered into an MOU with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) to synergize strengths and competencies for development of Hydro Power Projects including Pumped Storage Schemes in the country. Govt. of Maharashtra has allotted 2 PSPs namely Malshej Ghat (600 MW) & Humbarli (400MW) to the Joint Venture of THDC and NPCIL for updation of DPR and subsequent implementation subject to commercial viability. Under India-Bhutan Co-operation in hydro Sector development , MOP has allotted two Projects namely Sankosh Multi Purpose Project (4060 MW) and Bunakha HEP (180 MW) in Bhutan for updation of DPR, and subsequent implementation on Intergovernmental Authority Model / JV with Bhutanese PSUs. The work of updation of DPRs has been taken up. THDC is also engaged in the engineering consultancy work for stabilization of Varunavat Parvat in Uttarkashi entrusted by Government of Uttarakhand. The work involves providing the complete engineering solution to the major hill stabilization problem and also supervising the execution of works at site. The Corporation has commissioned Tehri Dam and HPP Stage-I (1000 MW) during Xth plan. The Tehri Power Station is now fully operational.

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