Assessed impacts of the proposed Bodhghat Hydroelectric project

Published Date: 
August, 2007

The purpose of this paper is to present a select Indian case of environmental appraisal of a hydro-power development project. An attempt has been made to focus on the implications of the Bodhghat Hydroelectric project for the wilderness values of the project area. The paper also presents an account of how public pressure, legislative framework and EIA procedures and practices have been effective in arresting a major ecological disaster even when EIA was not a mandatory requirement in India for determining the project feasibility. This case represents a situation that is unique in the way in which the development projects are generally pursued in developing countries, India included. In most cases, once a project is conceived, there is generally no looking back. At the most, what is really attempted is the mitigation of the impacts. The mitigation planning rarely takes into consideration the formulation of strategies that can be effective in mitigating all of the social and ecological impacts that are considered to be significant. These assessments which ignore the socioeconomic concerns and biodiversity impacts of the project often fail to produce a timely decision on the project implementation. For such projects, attempts are made to compensate for the delays in environmental clearance by advancing construction work and other preparatory activities in anticipation of the clearance which then tends to become the overriding justification for the clearance of the projects. This project has been an exception to the approach that is adopted in the case of many water projects. This project has been amongst those few projects in the country that was abandoned even after the project had made a sufficient headway on the grounds that the environmental appraisal failed to justify its recommendation.

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