In the report, the CAG highlighted the necessity to make adequate provisions in the environment plans for undesigning suitable measures to migrate the effect of hydel power projects on aquatic life of Sikkim. There are 63 species of Phytoplankton, 17 species of Zoo Phytoplankton and 48 species of fish inhabiting the river systems of Sikkim.
The creation of reservoirs, fluctuation in natural river discharge and diversion of river waters through closed tunnels would completely change the ecological conditions of the river systems.
“MoUs were needed to be signed with the project developers securing their commitments for a long term comphrensive strategy for preservation and protection of fishes and aquatic life in the river systems of the State”, the CAG said.
While in ten projects, the preservation measures were mainly alternative strategies which defeated the whole idea, the CAG pointed out that no provisions were made in the environment management plan of Chujachen and Bhasmey projects.
Teesta State V Project commissioned on March, 2008 has failed too on this count. About 23 Kms of Teesta river between the dam site and tail end of this project was direct through tunnels in the projects.
“The fish species and other aquatic organisms along with stretch of rive thus already suffered possible damages due to the changes in the flow of water”, the CAG said in a report.
The CAG also said that the catchment area treatment plant for the power projects were prepared without taking into account the field requirement for survival of the plantations and were therefore , aribitary and inadequate . It also rejected the reply of the State Forest Department on the issue accussing the department of not ensuring adherence to the plans to the prevalent norms.
The CAG also placed that the environment management plans for the projects had been prepared through assessment of secondary data without diligent study, observation and research of prevailing ground realities ove ran adequate period of time.
The State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) jas also been found wanting by CAG for failing to identify specific locations for dumping excavated materials from the project sites. Thus there was indiscriminate disposal of muck by the developers causing degradation of land, air and water, it said.
The CAG has provided the finding of the State Mines and Minerals Department which reveals gross negligence by NHPC in disposal of muck generated from the execution of Teesta State V project. Spoils were thrown along the river banks raising the river bed of the Teesta leading to change in flood behaviour of the river , acceleration of toe erosion and degradation of the overall geo-environmental setting in the area, the report said.
“In case of another project (Panan HEP), the sites identified for disposal of much was too small to retain safely the huge quantity of muck which could lead to future disaster such as enhanced siltation of reservoirs if the downstream projects, toe erosion and change in the geo-environmental setting of the downstream areas”, said in a CAG report.