Fears grip Kangra village after hydroelectric project leak - Hindustan Times
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Fears grip Kangra village after hydroelectric project leak

By, Dharamshala
May 21, 2024 09:06 AM IST

The project management have raised concerns claiming that residents are not allowing access to carry out protection work

A recent leak in the hydroelectric project’s penstock near Multhan village, located in Kangra district, has left residents in a persistent sense of fear.

The project management has diverted the water with the Kangra district administration’s permission but protection work is pending (HT File (Representative image))
The project management has diverted the water with the Kangra district administration’s permission but protection work is pending (HT File (Representative image))

While the project management has diverted the water with the district administration’s permission, the protection work at the leak site is still pending. Penstocks are pressure vessels in the form of a channel or pipe that carries water from the source to the turbine in the power station.

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While locals say a permanent solution is required, the project management have also raised concerns claiming that residents are not allowing access to carry out protection work.

On May 10, the 25-MW Lambadug hydroelectric project suffered a leak in its penstock, causing damage to property and farmlands in Multhan village in the Chhota Bhangal (Barot) region of Kangra district.

The gushing water from the project entered houses, shops and agricultural fields as panicked residents hurried to safer locations. They still continue to live in fear. Madan Lal, a resident of Multhan who runs a shop, said, “My house and shop were affected after the leak happened. We still have a sense of fear that the incident may happen again. They have not fixed it properly so far and have just diverted the water. We do not know how long we will have to live in fear.”

An impasse

The Lambadug hydroelectric power project is being executed by Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Limited (MEIL), which is a holding company of KU Hydro Power Private Limited. Harpal Singh, consultant, KU Hydro private limited, said since the incident happened on May 10, we have given a compensation of 4.5 crore to those whose property was damaged.

“Now, we have held three rounds of meetings with the locals regarding the compensation of agricultural land and crops but they are asking to give 17 crore which is 50 lakh per family to total 34 families, which appears illogical,” he said, adding that the local tehsildar assessed the loss of land and crop for next five years as 1.45 crore with standard revenue formulae.

“The villagers are not letting our teams to reach the spot to fix the leak and divert water permanently and we are writing to the local administration to assist us in the matter, so that we can carry out the immediate protection work to avoid any such incident from happening again,” he said.

Kangra deputy commissioner Hemraj Bairwa, who on Saturday inspected the area affected by the hydroelectric project leak, has given the necessary instructions to the project management. “They were instructed to get the penstock repaired before the rainy season so that there is no damage during the rainy season and the management was also instructed to take effective steps to compensate for the loss of land and crops,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective, an environmental non-governmental organisation, whose team visited the area following the incident, nearly 50 families seem to have been impacted due to the damages to either homes, fields and shops.

The NGO in its report called for a complete moratorium on further hydropower development and new projects of the capacity 25 MW and above. They have also demanded a 360-degree safety audit of all existing operational hydropower and mega projects in the state.

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