Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Poorly planned hydropower plants linked to North India floods

Nilima Choudhary in Responding to Climate Change: The poor construction and locations of hydropower projects in Uttarakhand appears to have exacerbated the recent flooding and raised questions over India’s planning regulations. Unseasonally heavy rain in June triggered a series of water surges down Himalayan valleys, leading to over 1,000 deaths with thousands more left stranded.

Construction in and around riverbeds has been partially blamed for the level of casualties, as has high levels of deforestation in the region.

But the proliferation of hydropower plants is also a target of local anger. Some say they have eroded riverbanks making them weak and narrow, unable to hold their structure during intense flooding, which experts agree will be a regular occurrence due to the effects of climate change.

It’s a critical issue for India’s government, which faces the twin challenges of generating more electricity and building more resilient communities. Around a quarter of northern India’s installed power generation capacity comes from hydropower.

The floods in Uttarakhand caused severe damage to six hydro power plants of which four were operational with a total installed capacity of 3,426MW along the Ganges and its tributaries, according to the Indian Express...

The Tehri Dam on the Bhagirathi River in the Garhwal Himalayas is the only major dam in the Ganges basin, and one of the largest dams in the world. Shot by Lingaraj, G. J., Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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