The Uttarakhand High Court ordered a stay on construction of all hydropower plants in the state and directed the district magistrates to identify sites within eight weeks for disposal of debris from every project.
The court prohibited waste disposal within 500 meters of rivers, sternly rejecting the state government’s request to reduce the range from 500 meters to 200 meters, and said all district magistrates shall be personally held responsible if any waste is disposed of at any place other than the ones earmarked for the purpose.
A bench of justices Rajeev Sharma and Lok Pal Singh gave the directions on a PIL filed by Himadri Jan Kalyan Sansthan which alleged that the debris from the hydro projects was being dumped near the rivers, impeding their flow and causing damage to the environment.
Noting with concern the receding glaciers and depleting water levels of the rivers flowing through the state, the court set a deadline of 8 weeks within which all district magistrates of Uttarakhand have to identify and demarcate the muck disposal sites for every hydro-power project under construction in a scientific manner, counsel for the petitioner Kartikeya Hari Gupta said.
Putting a stay on all ongoing hydro-power projects in the state, the court said building hydroelectricity projects on rivers like the Ganga and its tributaries was tantamount to overburdening them.