Uttarakhand glacier outbreak: In 2019, PIL pointed out the company’s ‘dangerous practices’ | India News
A view of the damaged Dhauliganga hydroelectric project in the village of Reni in the Chamoli district (AP)
NAINITAL: The Rishiganga hydroelectric power project, which was razed after the glacier erupted in Raini village and where several workers are still feared trapped, was singled out by villagers as an “imminent disaster.”
In 2019, a village resident named Kundan Singh had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Uttarakhand (HC) High Court alleging unfair and environmentally dangerous practices by the private company involved in the project. The company was alleged to be “using explosives and blasting mountains for mining.” The explosion, according to the petition, had damaged sensitive areas around the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve.
Singh had said that all the waste material from the project was being dumped into the Rishiganga River, adding that despite complaints from villagers, no action was taken. Furthermore, it was also noted that the blatant stone crushing activity was taking place in the riverbed
“They scoffed at all the regulations the government had set for stone crushing activity in this area … Although villagers complained to authorities about the violations, no credible action was taken,” Singh said in the petition. .
Based on the PIL, the court had observed that the use of explosives can “result in the destruction of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and the Valley of Flowers.” Therefore, the court prohibited the use of explosives in the area and, in June 2019, ordered the clerk member of the pollution control board and the district magistrate to form a joint inspection team and visit the site.
However, the report, a copy of which is available from TOI, exonerated the firm and said it found no evidence of illegal mining or blasting. “During the inspection, there was no evidence that illegal mining was conducted at the site and no evidence could be collected,” the report read.
However, the court was informed that there was still some dirt around the barrage and the powerhouse that had not yet been cleaned. On July 26, the court had included the case for an additional hearing in August. There has not been a single hearing after that and the case is still pending at the HC.