Dams must release min amount of water: NGT
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has urged state pollution control boards to ensure the release of minimum water downstream by hydroelectric projects (HEPs), stating that business or commercial interests cannot override the necessity of maintaining riverine ecology.
Irrespective of commissioning date, all HEPs are under an obligation to release minimum water downstream, said a green panel led by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel.
The bench said that this is a mandate under Sustainable Development, and a part of the "right to life". The tribunal directed compliance by all HEPs including in the states of Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal (North Region), Assam and Jammu & Kashmir.
The tribunal discarded the submission of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation seeking exemption from releasing water to maintain 15% e-flow (the quantity and timing of water essential for the river to perform its ecological functions) during the lean period.
The mandate of the law cannot be ignored on technical and/or commercial limitations, said NGT. It also added that no business or commercial interest could override the requirement of maintaining riverine ecology.
The panel noted that the Ministry of Jal Shakti has not filed any report even though a period of nine months has passed since its direction.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by a resident of Himachal Pradesh, seeking enforcement of the requirement of releasing minimum water downstream by the state's HEPs.