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Tehri dam could now cost 30 times more

The Times of India News Service
July 15, 2000

LUCKNOW: The inordinate delay in the construction of 260.5- metre-high Tehri dam might eventually push the cost of the project to approximately 30 times more than the estimated one. The project, which began at an estimated cost of Rs 192.92 in the early seventies, was mired in the controversy since it had been launched.

The three-fourth of the project has been completed and it had already gobbled up nearly Rs 2000 crore. Since it was to release more than 3 million cubic feet of water, environmentalists under the leadership of Sunderlal Bahuguna had eventually launched an agitation against the project, calling people to resist its construction.

The opposition from environmentalists and social activists of all hues put stiff opposition in the way of project which envisaged to generate 600 MW of energy.The opposition to the project was focussed especially on huge reallocation of inhabitants and the threat of inundation.

An expert committee headed by D P Dhondhiyal, which eventually submitted its report on 6th April 1990 said that the threat of earthquake in the Himalayan region could reach up to 6.5 Richter scale. However, this contention was soon challenged by one of the members of the committee, D K Gaur. Prof Gaur in his separate contention had said that the earthquake in the Himalayan region could be of much higher scale and would cause untold misery to the inhabitants. However, the project went on nearing completion, though the threat of inundation remained.

In the wake of opposition which had assumed a new pitch the constituted a committee for studying the reallocation problems. The recommendation made by this committee raised so much dust that the government had to drop its recommendations mid way.

On the event of its break, the dam could submerge scores of villages in western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Delhi, yet even its reservoir stretching up to 44 kms in the Bhagirathi valley towards Uttarakhand was supposed to submerge 43 villages completely and 80 villages partially. Another reason for opposition to this project stemmed from the fact that it would uproot nearly 50,000 trees, said environmentalists.