GUWAHATI, Oct 12 – Renowned earthquake engineer Prof D K Paul, Dean of Faculty Affairs, Roorkee IIT, said on Friday that the NE dam projects were faultless. As, he said, these projects have been cleared by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Moreover, it is because of the intervention of the MoEF these projects have been designed as run-of-the river ones.
Had there been any problem with the projects, the MoEF had not cleared them, said Prof Paul, who was a member of the Environment Assessment Committee of the Ministry for a period of six years till the last year. Prof Paul was interacting with the media persons on the sideline of the experts’ meet organized by the Gauhati University PGSU Ex-GS’ Forum on the solutions to the probable problems being caused by the mega dam projects at the Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture here.
He said that he had the opportunity of seeing the projects cleared during this period and many of the projects were sent back on occasions to get things done in accordance with the norms.
However, he maintained that differences are there among the experts on the seismic parameters, which are open to interpretation. The seismic designs of the dams are done as per the values fixed by the National Committee on Seismic Parameters. If the safety standard is sought to be raised that can be done at enhanced cost to ensure more safety, he said.
But, he maintained that the differences among the experts could be thrashed out. When the dams are designed all aspects are taken into consideration. The fact that the NE region of the country is earthquake-prone has also been taken into consideration while designing the dams being set up in the region, he asserted.
He also maintained that the NHPC Ltd is a responsible organization and it cannot proceed on any project at the whims of certain officers.
The delay in implementing the hydropower projects make the nation incur tremendous loss in terms of power generation, he said.
He maintained that the Sichuan earthquake was unprecedented. It is baseless to say that the pressure of the stored water in the reservoir of the hydel project there had caused the devastating May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake. It was caused by the pressure of constant heavy rains, said Prof Paul.
Water resources expert Prof Arup Kumar Sarma of the Guwahati IIT, who also addressed the newspersons on the occasion, said that through a regulatory system, the adverse impacts of the run-of-the river projects on the environment could be done away with. These projects, due to their peak-load-hour generation nature, need to store water and this affects the river environment by blocking their environment flow during the lean season, he said.
The proposed hydel projects of the region would need cumulative impact assessment study. Moreover, the benefits should also be made available to the people who are taking the risks.
Besides, there should also be sufficient flood cushion and scientific flood warning systems in these projects to meet the challenges posed by the phenomenon of climate change, said Prof Sarma.