Pazhassi Dam nightmare puts focus back on Gadgil report
By Anil S | ENS - KOCHI
09th August 2012 09:15 AM
The Pazhassi Dam nightmares for the past two days have once again put the focus on the Western Ghats panel report, which recommends the de-commissioning of dams in a phased manner. The recent developments in Kannur have raised fresh concerns regarding the safety of various dams in the state.
The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) headed by Madhav Gadgil, which recently submitted its report to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), has a number of major recommendations regarding the operation and maintenance of dams and reservoirs. The report, which categorises Western Ghats as various Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZ), recommends “the decommissioning of dams that have outlived their utility, are under-performing and have silted up beyond acceptable standards.”
“Dams and thermal projects that have crossed their viable life span (for dams, the threshold is 30-50 years) to be decommissioned in a phased manner,” says the report. According to the recommendations, no new dams based on large-scale storage should be permitted in ESZ1. It is based on these aspects that the panel asked the government to refuse environmental clearance to the Athirappilly hydro-electric project.
The panel has said that no new dams over 15 m are permissible in ESZ2. Similarly, in the case of ESZ3, reservoir operations of already existing dams should be rescheduled for allowing more water downstream. The panel report states that the proposed Western Ghats Ecology Authority (WGEA) should assess the downstream impacts of dams on river ecology, flood plains, fishing habitats and livelihoods.
“The Pazhassi Dam issue has once again brought forth the significance of the WGEEP report. It has specific recommendations on the periodic maintenance of dams. The report proposes to verify the life of dams and downstream impacts,” pointed out A Latha of the River Research Centre, Thrissur
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