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Free flow for Bhagirathi as govt shelves 2 dams in upper reaches

Nitin Sethi, TNN, Mar 31, 2010, 12.46am IST

NEW DELHI: Bhagirathi, one of the key tributaries of the Ganga, will now flow untamed and unchecked through the year for at least part of its stretch. In a decision that shows heightened sensitivity towards the environment and may have consequences for other hydroelectric projects, the government has decided not to proceed with two projects — the 381MW Bhaironghati and 480MW Pala-Maneri hydroelectric plants — planned on the river that originates at Gaumukh.

There are indications that even the ongoing 600MW project at Loharinag-Pala may be shut down, with the government analyzing the environmental costs of discontinuing work on the mega dam.

The decision, taken last week by a three-member group set up by the PM, was prompted by religio-political and environmental considerations, and marks a big shift from the days when the government would disregard dissent on dams. [more]