Friday, January 9, 2015

NHPC officials directed to appear before district admn on 11 Jan on dam water release issue

GANGTOK, 09 Jan: The East district administration has issued a fresh notice and directive to power projects which are in operation in East Sikkim on 08 January after a funeral pyre was swept away on 06 January at Singtam when the Teesta Stage V hydel power project being developed by NHPC released dam water without proper warning. The East district administration had earlier issued directives and safety measures to be followed by power projects last year in June. 
On 06 January, the funeral was being conducted on the river side at Singtam and not at the designated cremation centre when the funeral pyre was washed away by the river. The next day i.e. 07 January, another funeral pyre was swept away at Labarbotey under Kalimpong sub-division of West Bengal.
It may be recalled that a young girl had lost her life in April last year at Singtam when water from the Stage-V Dam at Dikchu  was released without proper warning. The District Administration had taken serious note of the incident and set up an enquiry under ADM, East, Aishwarya Singh on the NHPC’s warning systems. After the incident, NHPC had constructed four cremation centres at different spots from Dikchu to Rangpo.
Speaking to NOW!, District Collector, East, Prabhakar Verma informed that NHPC officials have been directed to appear on 11 January before the District Administration to show cause as to why they have not followed the directives and safety measures issued by the administration.
The District Collector is one of the respondents in a PIL filed by legal activist Zangpo Sherpa in the High Court that has sought proper installation of warning system so that the people working in lower areas of the dam site can avoid any mishap when the water is released.
The PIL has also sought directions for the state government to prepare an emergency action plan setting out procedures to be followed for the protection of persons and property upstream and downstream of the dams in the event of an actual or imminent dam failure and to mitigate the effects of the disaster, providing better protection mechanism, public awareness and basic facilities for warning the public about the release of excess water from dams by inducting the various instruments, mechanism and personnel required for proper protection and care of the health of the public.
Further, the PIL seeks directions to the State respondent to collect a fixed deposit of Rs. 1 crore from the major hydel power project companies and Rs 50 lakh from medium hydel power project companies and Rs 25 lakh from the small hydel project operators/ companies to be deposited in a Special Account under the Department of Social Welfare, from which compensation is to be released to the person affected by the operation of the hydro projects. The state may be given liberty to collect more funds in future.
Meanwhile, Additional Advocate General, JB Pradhan informed that he has already advised the state government to enact a Dam Safety Act to regulate such incidents, maintenance of dams and other damages caused in future.

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