Energy plays a pervasive and critically important role in the socio-economy and development of a country. The Sun provides energy that can be captured in the form of solar power, wind power and hydropower. These alternative energy, on a world basis, account for approximately 12% of energy consumption. These sources have the advantage of being inexhaustible and are generally associated with minimal environmental degradation. However, there is a need for more R&D for development of efficient technologies, and the public awareness of the use of renewable energy resources.1
The total world consumption of energy in 1992 was about 400 exajoules (or quads) annually. Out of this the developed countries, which are only 10% of the world populations, consumed about 90% of the energy. The United States alone consumes about 82 exajoules of energy per year. Canada is the highest per capita energy consumption in the world.1
On the other hand, the demand for energy in developing countries is now compounded by the economic transition, envisaged in various sectors for development, where 90% of the world’s population growth is taking place. The average person in developing countries annually uses the equivalent of one or two barrels of oil of commercial fuel. In contrast, the number jumps to between 10-30 in Europe and Japan and more than 40 barrels in the U.S.1
Today, the global fossil fuel depletion is at the rate that is 100,000 times faster than they are being formed.1 In the developing world as a whole, about 2 billion people rely solely on fuel wood as their energy source for heating and cooking.2 Forest cover in India as per 1999 assessment was 637,293 sq. km and comprises of 19.39% of geographic area. The geographic area of Manipur is 22,327 sq. km of which forest cover is 17,418 sq. km, and constitutes 78.0 per cent of the total area. The total forest cover changes from 1993 to 1997 were from 17,621 to 17,418 (sq. km.) in Manipur.
Although, three quarters of the earth area is covered by water, around 97.2 percent is in the oceans. Only 2.8 percent is fresh water, of this 2.38 percent lies frozen in the Polar icecaps and another 0.39 percent is present as groundwater. A small fraction of 0.02 percent is found as surface water, and constitutes the fresh water resources of the world. Air and soil has about 0.001 percent of fresh water. The annual terrestrial global hydrological cycle represent, 1,00,000 km3 of precipitation over land; land evapo-transpiration of 60,000 km3, and 40,000 km3 runoff from land to sea. It is this runoff water of 40,000 km3 that formed the fresh water resources available to us.2 This runoff water is used for the production of hydroelectric power.
Water as a renewable resource in hydroelectric generations is tapped, particularly, in the areas with adequate water potential and steep topography. These types of geo-environmental conditions are primarily helpful in setting up of hydropower projects. Hydropower is a clean, renewable, low-cost alternative to other energy sources, it is flexible and reliable and more efficient than any other form of electricity generation. Turbines are capable of converting 90% of available energy, whereas the best of fossil fuel power plant is efficient only 50%. Another positive aspect of hydropower is its operational flexibility, its ability to change output quickly and its unique voltage control load following and peaking capabilities in hydropower projects help maintain the stability of the electric grid ensuring economic growth. Hydropower also supports various kinds of aesthetic and recreational activities. Besides, these projects help to manage floodwaters, irrigate fields, and provide water supply and harness water potential as electricity. Hydropower, thus meet the continuous rising demands for energy in a country.
However recently, the impacts of hydropower projects on the environment were discovered. In July 1999, the United States Federal Government breached the Maine’s 3.5 MW Edwards dam on the Kennebec River, largely in an effort to restore the environmental damage caused by the dam over the past 162 years.3 Hydropower projects have been criticised when adequate attentions were not paid from environmental conservation point of views. Construction of dams adversely affects the hydrology, the terrestrial system and the aquatic system of the basin. Large-scale dam construction has failed sufficiently when taken into account the social and environmental costs incurred in its wake.4 One of the most critical and contentious issues associated with large dam projects has been the growing impact on the livelihood, culture, or indigenous people and ethnic minorities.5 There are raising voices world over against building of large dams. As a result regulatory bodies are continuously enacting legislation’s aimed at protecting the environment.
At the same time, one should not forget its positive aspects too. Any of the activities of development would certainly have some negative affects. But it depend much on our way of planning, level of co-ordination among project authorities, local government, host communities and R & D institutions and involvement of these at different stages. If we do this, we might have far-reaching positive things from hydroelectric projects. However, the spell of gigantism should be not the first or the preferred direction but the last option and debate on it.
The present study is conducted to get a public perception on the impact of the proposed Tipaimukh hydropower projects (Figure 1). The recent MoU signed between state government officials and the North East Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO), concerning the Tipaimukh High Dam project has allowed the later to conduct a feasibility study to understand the viability of the project.6 This has facilitated NEEPCO to received Techno Economic Clearance (TEC) from Central Electricity Authority (CEA) on 2nd July 2003. Many a renowned persons had written many articles before, the present article envisage the existing scenarios nationally and internationally and the merits and demerits of hydroelectric dam. Though onsite survey has not been performed, it is important for the civilians and the academicians to know the present international scenarios of the hydroelectric dam. The impacts of a dam could be of both types: Positive and Negative.
2. The Era of Hydroelectric Power Generation
Since March 22, 1880, when 16 brush-arc lamps were powered using a water turbine at the Wolverine Chair Factory in Grand Raphide, MI, hydropower has played a vital role in fulfilling the world’s demands for energy. On September 30, 1882, the world’s first hydroelectric power plant began operation on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin. The plant, later named the Appleton Edison Light Company, was initiated by Appleton paper manufacturer H.F. Rogers, who had been inspired by Thomas Edison’s plans for an electricity-producing station in New York. With financial backing from three Appleton men, one a personal friend of Edison, Rogers began building the Appleton plant at his riverside paper mill during the summer of 1882. It could light only 250 bulbs. Since its advent in 1880, hydroelectricity has seen many phases of ups and downs. In America, Niagara Falls was the first hydroelectric power site developed for major power generation and is still a source of electric power today.7
The last two decades have witnessed an accelerated pace of dam construction world over, transforming the earth’s landscape and economy of billions of people. A great majority of large dams have been completed only in the last 30 years. In 1950, there were 5,196 dams commissioned in the world. In 1982, there were 35,000, of which 34,798 were over 15 m in height.8 A moderate 54% increase in consumption of hydroelectricity is projected from 1997 to 2020.9
The first major hydroelectric power plant in India was completed in 1902 at Sivasamundram, an island located in the upper course of the Cauvery River in South India. The power station initially transmitted 3 MW of electricity 90 miles to the Kolar Gold Field mine operated by a consortium of British companies.
In Manipur Loktak Project was commissioned in the year 1983 and produce 105 MW (3 x 35 MW) of electricity. The headrace tunnel is 6.89 km long with a diameter of 3.81m; the barrage is 58.8m long and 10.7m in heights.
3. Hydroelectric Power Scenarios
3.1 World Scenarios
Hydroelectricity contributes a substantial portion of North America’s electricity supply. In 1997, hydroelectricity accounted for 13.5%, 27%, and 56% of the total installed capacity in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, respectively. Canada is the largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world, closely followed by Mexico and America in the second and third position, respectively.10
In the United States, hydroelectricity declines slightly because of the increased in the environment pressure and inclination towards the other renewable resources as solar energy, nuclear energy, thermal energy, etc.11 It is becoming controversial because of the fear about damaging the environment and decimating of fish populations. The removal of Edward Dam on Maine’s Kennebec River is an example of this.12 However, there are approximately 75,000 dams in the United States. The majority of them are less than 10 feet high, and only 3 percent of them have hydropower capabilities.
In Canada, 56% of the country’s electricity capacity is derived from hydropower and is expected to increase in the coming years. Large-scale hydroelectric facilities in Canada are likely to expand, along with several small to mini-sized hydroelectric projects.13, 9 Chute Bell Hydroelectric project, a $7.4 million project was completed in 1999 by Hydro Quebec.14
Many countries in Central and South America remain heavily dependent on hydroelectric power plants for electricity generation. In Brazil 87% of the installed electricity, capacity is hydropower. For other countries of the region, hydropower makes up smaller shares of generating capacity, e.g., 43% in Argentina, 53% in Chile, and 59% in Venezuela. After the 1999 drought, when Chile suffered a major loss of electricity, it has now moved towards thermal energy. The 1999 drought, a scarcity of water rights near hydroelectric projects has been factors in the push for diversification.15 Peru, though, has plans to expand its hydroelectric power by constructing more new projects and repairing the old ones to increase their capacity, e.g., Cheves hydroelectric project constructed on the Huaura River with an installed capacity of 525 MW and Machu Picchu hydroelectric project which is being repaired to increase its capacity to 140 MW.16
Drought has been a major enemy of hydroelectric power projects. Analysts have depicted the 1999 drought in Latin American countries as the worst of the century. The lack of water in the Mexican state of Sinaloa left reservoirs filled to only 13% of capacity, and electricity had to be imported from the US to accommodate the demand.15
Hydropower accounts for 43,000 MW of Russia’s generating capacity, about 1/5th of the country’s total capacity.17 In Tajikistan, electric power primarily comes from hydroelectric dams, which Tajikistan’s mountain geography makes possible.18
In Africa and Middle East, Hydroelectricity constitutes a major portion of the electricity. Hydroelectricity provides the bulk of Egypt’s electricity at present. In 1997, hydropower accounted for about 51% of the country’s total electricity capacity. Three large dams operate at Aswan: the High Dam (2100 MW), Aswan I (345 MW), and Aswan II (270 MW).19 Today, the dam supplies about one-third of Egypt’s electrical power, and it saved Egypt’s rice and cotton crops during the droughts of 1972 and 1973.20 Hydroelectricity and other renewable resources provide less than 1% of all electricity generation in South Africa and is making efforts to increase the amount of alternative renewable energy consumed.21
Much of the developed hydroelectric capacity in the Middle East is in Turkey and Iran contributing to 45% and 38% to the regional total, respectively.10 Turkey is further developing hydroelectric projects as a part of the $32 billion Southeast Anatolia (GAP) hydroelectric and irrigation project, which will include 21 dams, 19 hydroelectric plants (27 billion KW), and a network of tunnels and irrigation canals.22 Iran expects several hydroelectric plants to become operational by 2004, providing them with additional 5400 MW of electricity.19
3.2 Asian Scenarios
Large-scale hydroelectric projects are still being constructed in developing Asia. The three Gorges Dam projects in China remains the largest and one of the most controversial hydroelectric power projects under construction in the world. Construction of the 18,200 MW project began in 1993, but it has been in various stages of planning since 1919, when it was first proposed by the Chinese leader Sun Yat Sen.23 Supporters of the dam argue that it is needed to help control flooding along the Yangtze river, as well as provide much needed electricity from a source that does not produce green house gases in comparison to the fossil fuel which produces the green house gases.
More than 4,800 people were killed in the floods of 1998 and 1999.24 Project advocates expect the dam to produce as much as 85 billion KW of electricity per year (i.e. 9% of the electricity consumed in China) after its completion in 2009.13 Opponents of the dam believe it would cause an irreparable damage to the nature by harming the indigenous flora and fauna, threatening such species as the endangered Yangtze River dolphins and several plant and animal species. There are also concerns about the pollution that may be caused by the dam. Water pollution along the Yangtze River will double as the dam traps pollutants from mining operations, factories, and human settlements that used to be washed out to sea by the strong currents of the river. Further an estimated 1.1 million to 1.9 million people are expected to be displaced due to the construction of this dam.9
3.3 Indian scenarios
Hydroelectricity in India is already well established. India ranks fifth in the world in terms of hydropower potential as per a report prepared by National Hydroelectric Power Corporation of India (NHPC). A vision paper prepared by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) on development of hydroelectric potential envisages harnessing the entire balance hydropower potential of India by the year 2025-2026.25 Hydroelectric contributes 22% (21,104 MW out of 96,803 MW) of the country’s total installed electricity generating capacity. 9% of the dams in the world are in India. The CEA assessed the country’s aggregate technical feasible of hydro potential at 94,000 MW.26
There was a rapid increase in dam construction in India during 1951 to 1985, from a total number of 246 major and 1,059 medium River valley projects, 65 major and 626 medium projects were completed. The hydro share in India has declined from 44% in 1970 to 25% in 1998.27 Presently, the Indian government has plans to increase the hydroelectric capacity by 35,490 MW by 2012.16 Twelve large-scale projects are scheduled for completion by 2002.28 From the environmental angle submergence of forest by hydel projects can cause a great threat to biodiversity of the region as has been seen in cases of Idukki and Periyar projects.29, 30
In Manipur, Tipaimukh HE (Multipurpose) Project (1500MW) is planned at the junction of Mizoram, Manipur, and Assam. An area of about 390 sq. km. is proposed for the construction of a rock-filled earthen dam at a height of 162 m. The site is 500 meters down stream of the confluence of Tuivai and Barak Rivers (Figure 1).31 According to NEEPCO the dam would affect only eight villages in the two districts, of which three would be completely submerged, while five would be partially under water. The project needs clearance at three stages and can be wound up if found unfeasible.32
The main objective of the proposed Tipaimukh dam is to control the fury of annual flood in Cachar Valley of Assam and power generation for NEEPCO. Out of the 1500 MW to be generated, the State would be getting a share of 12 percent.33 The projects affected communities has welcomed the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the state of Manipur and the NEEPCO. Thought, the affected communities particularly the people of Tipaimukh and Nungba, the construction of this dam, they thought would be fruitful and enhanced developing the backward and neglected people of the area.34 However, the questioning of the wisdom behind the proposed Tipaimukh dam has been anticipated from different voluntary organizations and communities to show the pros and cons of the dam by undergoing different agitation.35
4. Overview of the Impacts of the Hydroelectric Projects
There is a realization that hydroelectric power projects are not as clean as they were normally considered to be world over. They cause many adverse environmental and social impacts.36 A major conflict arises between development and biodiversity conservation when projects are located in the wilderness area because such projects impact upon prevailing patterns of allocation of land and resources to people and interface with various forestry and wildlife conservation objectives.37
Taking India for instance, the man to forest ratio has already become adverse by a factor of 5 as compared to that in the late 40’s, with over 2.5 times rise in human and livestock population and shrinkage of forest and other wilderness tracts to about half.38, 39 The implementation of such projects brings the forests in great pressure, compounding the impacts upon conservation of flora and fauna. Such indirect impacts have been seen in case of Manathody hydroelectric project in Wynad.40 Similar impacts were also visualized in proposed Bodhghat project.40, 41 Sardar Sarovar project in Gujarat, Narmada Sagar project in M.P., and Tehri Dam project in U.P. have generated much controversy in the name of environmental degradation and displacement factor.42 The Silent Valley Project was strongly opposed and eventually abandoned in the face of the threat it could cause to the biodiversity of virgin tropical rain forest. 41
Dams also alter the social life of the local people, effect indigenous lifestyle and culture and accelerate the transition to a market economy centered in big towns. Some 40-80 million people have been physically displaced by dams worldwide according to the World Commission on Dams Report released in the year 2000.43
In addition to the losses due to the inundation of villages, towns, and forests, a large number of trees are also felled in project implementation to meet the fuel wood requirement of the migrant laborers who are brought into work in these projects. It has been established that nearly 5 lakh hectares of forestland have already been destroyed as a result of construction of various river valley projects in India from 1950 to 1975. 36
The promulgation of Wildlife (Protection) Act,44 Forest (Conservation) Act,45 and the Environment (Protection) Act46 as well as the National Forest Policy,47 Guidelines for Hydropower and Siting of Industry,48, 49 and Policy on Hydro Power Development27 laid a firm policy approach and statutory provision to strengthen the environmental conservation. Any developmental activity placed under Schedule-I requires environmental clearance from the Central Government. These include river valley projects including hydroelectric projects and irrigation projects. Public hearing meetings in any such activity are mandatory.50
4.1 Positive Impacts of Hydroelectric Projects
The positive impact of damming a river is mainly on the socio-economic benefit to the host communities, and aesthetic and recreational value in and around the dam site. Some of the positive impact of the hydroelectric power projects are as follows:
- Hydropower is clean, renewable, low-cost alternative to other energy sources.
- Hydropower can be a true answer to the question arose due to the continuous rising demands for energy in the cities, towns and villages.
- Hydropower is emission-free and helps nation meet its clean air goals.
- Hydropower in 1997 displaced the equivalent of burning 143 million tons of coal, 20 million barrels of oil, and 471 billion cubic feet of natural gas combined, preventing the emission of 336 million tons of carbon dioxide.51
- Operationally it is flexible: It has the ability to change output quickly and has the uniqueness in voltage control. Load following and peaking capabilities in hydropower projects help maintain the stability of the electric grid ensuring economic growth.
- Supports various kinds of aesthetic and recreational activities, adding to the state income. Opportunities for camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, picnicking, boating, whitewater rafting, and water skiing, as well as flood control, irrigation, and numerous other benefits.
- It manages floodwaters, irrigate fields, and provide water supply and harness water potential as electricity.
- Employment: host communities are given employment for different activities of division of work in hydroelectricity generation.
- Economic Benefits: Lands are either purchased or negotiated on lease basis either from the government or from the public depending on the location and situation of the hydropower projects. In return, particularly the local residents get direct economic benefits in the form of compensation.
- Drought: During the period of drought, dam usually help by irrigating water for crops.
- Water Shortage: If the area of the storage reservoir is small then there will be no displacement of the localities, thus no rehabilitation problem will arise due to submergence.
- Soil erosion of large watershed system or river of different structures and topography and complex landscapes are minimized.
- The control of the flow rate gives the estuary-increased stability due to the reduced possibility of flash flooding and hence washing away of sediment etc. is eliminated.
According to the reservoir simulation study using the ACRES simulation (ARSP) downstream of the Tipaimukh reservoir, shows that it would withstand 100-years’ floods. In addition, it will assure irrigation through the canal system, which will bring an era of growth – which is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.52
4.2 Negative Impacts of the Hydroelectric power projects
The environmental impacts of hydroelectric power project will of course vary from case to case. From past experience it is known that all the consequences and ramifications arising from the damming of a river cannot really be fully foreseen and planned. Most projects have some common and inescapable consequences. The environmental impacts caused by the construction of dams and reservoirs includes:
4.2.1 Physical and chemical environment
- Changes in the microclimate: The change in the climatic condition of the project site. The stilling of flowing waters leading to temperature stratification.
- Landslides and Soil erosion: The project activities leave the eco-impact features of instability in the form of landslides and soil erosion, violent disturbance of pristine areas.
- Variation in water table: Mostly the water table increased in an around the dam sites. Varying degrees of submergence of land including forests in some cases.
- Instability of geo-physical landscapes: Changes in the landform of the project areas.
- Siltation and nutrients variation: Eroded soil filled up the reservoir after some time. Variations in nutrient contents and dissolved oxygen, rendering the water inhospitable to aquatic life.
- Decrease flow-rate of the river downstream: affect aquatic life and riparian communities, reduced capacity for self-regeneration, reduced recharge of groundwater aquifers, enhanced pollution levels etc.
- Submergence of land: Submergence due to the construction of hydroelectricity generation is the step through which fragile land topography, many delicate plants, faunal population and tiny living organisms such as butterflies have to suffer a great loss.
- Air Pollution: Construction accelerates the rate of suspended particulate matter (SPM) and dust.
- Solid Waste Problem: As the human activities increase in and around the sites of hydropower projects, waste products also increase if there is a lack of adequate infrastructure to deal with.
- In the hilly tract, blasting operations for road construction can cause considerable damage to the environment through loosening of sedimentary layers and joints of rocks and resultant landslides, sedimentation of reservoirs, drying up of spring and flash floods etc.
- The creation of new settlements for the workmen and rehabilitation of project outees in the watershed areas may aggravate the seriousness of advance impacts.42
- Seismic activity: Enhanced seismic activities due to pressure of water: The huge amount of water reservoir cause tremendous pressure to the earth surface, thus causing earthquakes. Figure 2 shows the seismic map of the plate boundary region and the Tibetan plateau region, having hazard levels of the order of 0.25g with prominent highs of the order of 0.35-0.4g in the seismically active zones of the Burmese arc, Northeastern India and North-west Himalaya/ Hindukush region and is included in the Zone V.53 A major earthquake rocked Manipur-Myanmar border in the year August 06, 1988 at the epicenter of lat. 25.130 and long 95.150 and at a magnitude of 6.6 Richter scale.
4.2.2 Biological environment
- Loss of vegetal cover: Removal of the plants from the project site, reduction in biodiversity.
- Decrease in the faunal species: The disturbance caused in the nature, mainly due to excessive noise from blasting and tunneling, etc. affecting the sensitive habitats of the wildlife in the surrounding areas. Severe impacts on the fish population in the river.
- Deforestation: Cutting of fuel woods for energy and constructions.
- Threat to medicinal plants due to submergence, disturbance, destabilization, and degradation of land. Soil erosion and floods in and around the dam site has its indirect influence on plants.
4.2.3 Cultural environment
- Dislocation of people: Shifting of people from their original village to another.
- Destruction of immovable property: Destruction of houses, farms etc.
4.2.4 Socio-economic environment
- Problem of host communities such as compensation, employment, road construction, drinking water, afforestation to compensate the loss resulted due to the developmental works.
- Public agitations: Due to misunderstanding between the host communities and the managing authorities cause campaigns and strikes against the authorities to make agree the project proponents to meet their demands. All these reactions of resentment ultimately affect the production rates and its growth, ultimately hampering the growth of the country.
- Irrigation from hydropower projects has numerous impacts on forest and wildlife directly or indirectly, thus affecting the socio-economic condition of the host communities.
- Multi-purpose projects often have only two components, namely, irrigation and hydroelectric power. The integration of other purposes has not been a standard feature of project planning.
- Project-Affected Persons, with the assistance of NGOs, have become more conscious of their rights both their fundamental rights as citizens and their traditional rights of use of river waters, forest produce and other natural resources.
- The Tipaimukh area is ecologically sensitive and topographically fragile.
Some of these negative effects cannot be remedied or even mitigated; and in some cases efforts at the mitigation of or compensation for environmental impacts in turn will create further problems.
5. Public Awareness and Participation
The degree of awareness concerning the public hearings among the local residents of the region should be assessed. Public hearings are now a statutory requirement in respect of such projects, but this is essentially in the context of an environmental clearance. The hearings should also cover the displacement/rehabilitation aspects. A ‘rehabilitation clearance’ similar to the environmental clearance should be made a statutory condition before work on a major hydroelectric project can begin. The ‘social costs’ inflicted by projects often fall on poor and disadvantaged sections, particularly tribal communities, whereas the benefits accrue to others usually more prosperous people in the command area. Thus, the project authorities should incur equal distributions systems.
Some state governments have tried to provide project-affected persons with rights in the command area. Mention may be made of the Madhya Pradesh Project Affected Persons Resettlement Act 1985; the Maharashtra Project Affected Persons Rehabilitation Act 1986; and the Karnataka Resettlement of Project Displaced Persons Act 1987. However, these Acts are on the statute books and contains some enlightened provisions, it cannot be said that they have been fully put into practice. Another provisions such as the collection of a ‘betterment levy’ from farmers whose lands get the benefit of irrigation at state expense, or a lower land ceiling for irrigated land as compared with unirrigated land have remained largely unimplemented. These are important areas needing attention.
A seminar in Imphal, which had the Manipur Association for Science and Society (MASS) as an organizer is of the opinion that the proposed Rs. 30 billion Tipaimukh dam needs transparency and a national debate. However, people especially from affected areas think that the damage to be caused by construction of this dam is meager considering the huge benefits to be obtained from the dam. They believe that most of the land to be submerged are inaccessible, unproductive wasteland, and that no major damage to flora and fauna are expected. They assumed that apart from generating electricity, it would supply drinking water, provide irrigation to vast areas, and control perennial floods. Optimistically, they gather that big industries can be set up with the surplus power generated, the dam can boost tourism, water transport will be developed, and people engaged in Jhum cultivation can turn to fishing in the dam reservoir to enhance their income.34
6. Impact Mitigation Measures
There could be a variety of mitigation measures but to think mainly about those, which would be wise enough and are fundamental and be capable of bringing about a change in a satisfactory way at the initial stages need to be discussed briefly. These measures could be, in essence, as follows:
- Minimizing adverse impacts on forest, air, water, and flora and fauna: It is very important to the hydropower project authorities to seek help of the R & D institutions to continuously verify data on experimental basis. Any of the larger developmental activity requires a preliminary investigation of the geography and geology.
- The hydropower projects can be strengthened further as well as developed sustainably if every section of the responsible groups, such as hydropower project authorities, local government, host communities, and R & D institutions work in a coordinated way. Only after this, one can harness the real potential of hydropower projects and strengthen the nation’s economy.
- Seeking public participation and to strengthen hydropower projects in the region, public involvement etc. is must. The positive scenario about the public involvement is possible only after valuing some of the interests of the public by way of searching a room for a satisfactory representation of jobs for the unemployed. Keeping in mind of the behavioural problems at the initial stage, the public perception in regard to upcoming dams and hydropower projects in their host regions is a must to know.
- Majority of the villagers are not satisfied with the compensation they received in return to the land acquired by hydropower projects. This satisfaction level should be re-tested and tallied with the cost of present day value of land available in revenue records on behalf of the project authorities.
- Public feelings, aspirations and demands and views on environmental loss from project proponents also need to be transparent. However, it is again a fact that these problems might have been already discussed in ‘Public hearing’ meetings. But it is again true what numbers of the public in fact know its consequences at the time when only the process begins for its environmental clearance. It is the stage of project when no activity would have been started. So every individual could not visualise its consequences at this stage completely for future. Moreover, the representations of the public participating in these meetings remain very few. So at this time all the people could hardly participate and therefore could not react so openly.
- The impact on environment and geotectonic should be taken seriously and urged the government to weigh the national benefits vis-à-vis the possible impacts of such a big dam on the environment. As the northeast is a sensitive seismic zone, construction of mini dams, as an alternative could be more reliable.
- Dam safety: during the events of high rainfall/floods, storms, earthquake and other emergency incidents, action should be taken up and be alert to potential developments and maintain close vigilance during extreme events or perceived abnormal behavior of the dam. Maintaining of safety requirements at all times during response actions, and have routine check-up to detect any embankment movement, slips, and internal or external erosion. Monitoring of weather, wave action and filling rate inspect for wave damage, overtopping, structural damage, inspection of dam for overtopping, leakage, erosion or other problems; inspection of dam immediately after earthquake event is felt/notified and maintain visual monitoring for 24hrs is strongly recommended.
Hydropower projects are contributing towards the state as well as national demands for energy. However, at the level of public interests, these projects before implementation need some of the modifications in administrative set ups keeping in mind the expectations of the host communities from hydropower projects. Modern environmental conservation techniques to keep up developmental projects sustainable also need to be promoted. There are definitely some positive aspects of introducing these projects, but to the host communities it seems there is no direct benefits except very little compensation. Their prime requirements of getting employment, making them accessible to irrigation water and investing in local infrastructures of the region, e.g., schools, colleges etc. are some of the expectations of the public from the hydropower project authorities.
In regard to seek preventive measures to get control over the environmental problems arose due to developing the projects in the hilly tracks, afforestation along with some other sustainable measures on a part of the project authorities is must. Land conservation, proper disposal of wastes, active role of regulatory bodies to prevent illegal felling of trees, introducing and making access of alternative source of fuel energy to the laborers as well as the villagers are the other important suggestions to be implemented, if we need for strengthening of the hydropower projects in Tipaimukh region or similar other mountain environments of the country. Of course, we must also understand that sustainable development is impossible.
Therefore, if we assume the pursuit of higher ‘standards of living’, then we need to go for this project. Thus, instead of apocalyptic forecasts, it will be more realistic to recognize and go for efficient, economic, and conservation, so that the benefit derived from the project is maximized and without compromising the environmental degradations.
Another important aspects while assessing the large geographical area of Tipaimukh watershed is the remote sensing techniques, which is the most reliable tool. Application of GIS for computation of composite Runoff Potential units in sub-watershed of Barak Basin is also recommended.
Thus, before implementing a project it is proper to publish the feasibility report prepared by any body/bodies to decide the merit and demerit of the impact and take the public, government and private decisions. Finally, the decision-makers taking the precise judgment of the entire viewpoints should go for a dam or no dam.
- Godfrey Boyle ed. (1996), Renewable Energy: Power for a Sustainable Future, Oxford University Press, New York, 1996.
- Ramaswamy R Iyer: 2001, ‘Water: Charting a Course for the Future–I’. Economic and Political Weekly, Special Articles, March 31, 2001.
- Glenn Adams, July 2, 2000, Removal of dams gains in popularity: More dams coming down since demolition of Edwards Dam on Kennebec River. By The Associated Press The Telegraph online news http://archive.nashuatelegraph.com/Daily_Sections/News/Archives/2000/july/stories/0702w-dams.htm
- ICOLD (1997) International Commission on Large Dams: Position on Dams and Environment, WCD mandate.
- McCully, P. (1996) Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams. ZED Books, London.
- The Imphal Free Press 17 Jan 2003 ‘Dam MoU did not give NEEPCO go ahead’
- Anonymous (1992) Hydroelectric Power Resources of United States: Developed and Undeveloped, FERC, Washington, DC.
- Williams, P. (1985) The Social and Environmental Effects of Large Dams, Goldsmith, E. and Hildyard, N. (ed.), Vol. 2 Wadebridge Ecological Centre, U.K.
- DOE/EIA-484 (2000) Hydroelectricity and Other Renewable Sources. (March 31), pp. 1-31, website: www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/hydro.html
- DOE/EIA-219 (1997a) Energy Information Administration International Energy Annual, (April 1999) Washington, DC, pp. 94-95
- DOE/EIA-383 (1999) Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2000, DOE/EIA-383, (November) Washington, DC, pp.69, 139.
- Anonymous (1999a) Workers begin Removal of Edward Dams. Hydro Wire, 20(13) (July 19), p. 6.
- DOE/EIA-219 (1997b) Energy Information Administration, International Energy Annual 1997, DOE/EIA-219 (97), (November) Washington, DC, pp. 90-94.
- Anonymous (1999b) News Briefs. Hydro Wire, Vol. 20(13) (June 28), pp. 8-10.
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