Environmental Impact Of Making Hydropower Projects In Kinnaur District Of Himachal Pradesh- India

Bharat Bhushan Negi, Shoolini University ,Solan

2014-02-19 01:37:50

Hydropower Projects In Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh

Hydropower Projects In Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh has five river basin i.e., Satluj, Yamuna, Beas, Ravi & Chenab  and the identified potential of hydropower is 20463.5 MW out of this only 6066.00 MW has been exploited till now .Major of these hydro power projects are located in the Satluj basin of Kinnaur district which accounts for 9728.25 MW hydropower potential .

Hydropower projects are generally made to generate electricity by making dams and  reservoirs to provide hydraulic head and release water through turbines on a schedule that matches energy demands.The river water is stored in dams and passes through the tunnel and relese it on the turbine, by applying this water on turbine, the turbine starts rotating and electricity is generated .A number of hydro projects have grown in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Of these, major hydroprojects are located in the  Satluj basin of Kinnaur district.

Kinnaur district is located in the North Eastern part of Himachal Pradesh, India bordering The Republic Of China. Kinnaur has an area of 6041 sq. km about 11.5 % of the state with a population of 84,298 persons, density  13 person per sq km . The altitude of district is ranges from 1500 meter to 7025 meter above mean sea level. The major part of district is drained by river Satluj or Sutlej.There are many hydro projects grown in Kinnaur district a few of them are listed below in (Table-1).

Hydropower Projects







Karcham- Wangtu





















Figure : Hydropower Projects In Kinnaur.

Here C=Commissioned, UC= Under Construction

Many villages in Kinnaur are affected by these different-different projects.

1.     Village Chagaon, Jani, Urni & Punang are affected by Karcham-Wangtu project.

2.      Village Nigulsari & Kafor are affected by Nathpa-Jakhri project.

3.     Village Pangi affected by Kashang project.

4.     Village Moorang affected by Tidong project.

5.     Village Kandhar is affected by Karcham-Wangtu.


To provide water to slope dams are created from which it passes through tunnels. These dams directly affects specific ecosystem.

In Kinnaur these dams are acting as a physical barrier to fish movement and Depleting trends in the catches of game fish like Mahaseer (genera Tor, Neolissochilus and Naziritor in the family Cyprinidae) and Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)  Interruption in the life cycle of migratory species of fish. Beause of thes all it affecting the aquatic ecology in genral and fisheries in particular and destroying it.

The roads in Kinnaur are very closed to river Satluj, sometimes when the water rise up in the dam it touches the road which leads to cause weak base of mountain and road.

During tunnel digging heavy blastings are used which causes cracks in the houses. Around 80% people of project area are affected by this problem. It has also caused drying up of springs, grazing and agricultural fields. An article from Indian Newspaper “The Tribune” of 6th May 2012 tells us that, Him Dhara, a Himachal based environment action group, obtained data under the Right to Information Act from the Irrigation and Public Health Department, which revealed that 43 out of 167 water sources had dried up in villages affected by the Karchham Wangtoo project, and discharge in another 67 has gone down.

During the making tunnel to give water a slope, the excavation material is directly dumpted into Satluj river or near road side, which not only causes deterioration of water quality but also air pollution.

There is no industry in Kinnaur , the only and only one reason for air pollution in Kinnaur is Dust and the poisonous gases from these excavation material.

Transmission tower lines are used to transmit electricity from Kinnaur to other states and district . During making of these towers many forest land has so far been diverted. According to the state forest department, over 70, 000 hectares of forest land has so far been diverted to hydro projects. Of this, nearly 1,000 hectares in Kinnaur district. EIA reports of individual projects indicate felling of about 35,046 trees including highly endangered species like Chilgoza trees (Pinus Gerardiana).

A case study of Manoj Jreat and Renuka Thapliyal tells us that, there is an unfavourable perception and a negative attitude towards hydel power projects in Kinnaur district .This is mainly because the local residents do not perceive any benefit in terms of employment opportunities or improvement in infrastructure rather they believe that the projects stand responsible for destroying their simplicity of life.

From their study I got a heartbreaking data that, to give a way to the projects in Kinnaur other districts like Shimla, Kullu, Sirmaur and Bilaspur are also affected as 1,19,292 trees have been cut to construct these power lines.

Uprooting of hundreds of trees including 2803 Chilgoza At Tidong-1 Project. Residents of six villages coming under Tinala forest area have lost 80 per cent of their Chilgoza trees due to blasting and debris dumping.

During the making of these hydropower projects around 35046 trees are felled and damaged, and 781.479 hectares forest/agricultural area is diverted.

Apple is the main cash crops of district.Throughout the district, people attribute the decrease in crop production to air pollution, decrease in precipitation and lack of moisture in the soil due to establishment of Hydro projects.

The main reason behind the decrease in crop production and small size of apples are the dust which arise from dumping of excavation material, which results   air pollution. The dust affects the flower of plant during its time of pollination, the dust dust when settle down on the stigma of flower it stops an anther to contact with stigma, which affects the pollination.

Hydropower projects are the “big enemy” of kinnaur. Kinnaur is known fro its natural beauty and cool and pleasant temperature. But after making of these tunnels and dams the temperature of kinnaur is increasing every year. The main reason behind it is greenhouse gasses that are released into the atmosphere from air pollution. Global warming is changing climate globally and is causing significant changes to various regions of the project affected area. 

Hydropower projects can became a tragedy for Kinnaur and other hilly areas in near future. So before making this type of projects government has to make some preplan like rehabilitation and resettlement. Government needs to be use less destructive technology and adequate compensation that takes care of damage and so on .

Disclaimer: Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Scientific India Magazine or its staff.