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ANI (2005.3.7): Hydropower projects destroying Himalayan town: locals

[India News]: Joshimath (Uttaranchal), Mar 6 : The beauteous tiny township of Joshimath, a hugely revered pilgrimage centre in Uttaranchal, is pleading with authorities to scrap work on two major hydro-power projects, saying the extensive drilling and felling of trees is creating havoc with the earthquake-prone region’s ecology.

Nestled in the idyllic Himalayas, Joshimath is home to the Tapoban-Vishnugad and Vishnuprayag hydroelectric projects and work is on to extend their reach and operation on the mighty Alaknanada.

The twin projects, officials say, are critical for meeting the growing power needs of the state, besides being a source of employment. The projects they say will greatly help boost the region’s general socio-economic growth.

But the locals, most of who are farmers or in the tourism business, say the rapid development is tampering with their water sources, destroying the natural beauty besides affecting the wildlife, all of which is critical to their survival.

The locals also fear for the safety of these massive establishments as Uttranachal is one of the most seismically active regions in the world, and has faced two devastating earthquakes in the last 15 years.

“The NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) project is going to cross from the city. When the blast will be carried out, it will be dangerous and geologists have also raised fears that Joshimath is situated on a loose glacier,” said Ram Dayan, a resident.

“Joshimath is a very sensitive area and there is lot of threat to the city. Due to Vishnu Prayag project there have been landslides in neighbouring areas also, so the project should be scrapped,” added Thakur Singh Rana, the block development officer. [more]