NESPON Comments on the Jorethang Loop Large Hydro Project (Sikkim, India)

Friday, September 1, 2006

NESPON Comments on Project Design Document for the Jorethang Loop Hydroelectric Project on the Rangit River in the state of Sikkim, India.

Submitted to Det Norske Veritas (DNV)

The Jorethang Loop Hydroelectric Project (JLHEP) is an energy project under CDM activities by DANS Energy Private Ltd on the Rangit River in the state of Sikkim, India. The project is said to have an installed capacity of 96MW and that will generate approx. 441.2 Gwh(net) per annum. The project will involve the construction of a diversion barrage, approximately 13.5 Km downstream of the project of the proposed barrage site, which is about 15 Km downstream of the village Manjhitar.

A public hearing for this project was held on 9th April, 2006 by the State Pollution Control Board of Sikkim, in the Pipley village. Quite surprisingly, no one from the Manjhitar village, where the pumping station would be constructed was aware of this public hearing event and eventually nobody attended the hearing.

In the section A.4.3 of the project design document, it is mentioned that the flow of water from reservoir will reach the powerhouse through a 7.1 Km head race tunnel. And this tunnel will pass through the vicinity of different villages such as Salghari basti, Bharikhala basti and loorgoom, where the peoples knows nothing about this construction and not even aware of the public hearing which took place at the Pipley village.

In the section A.2 under Contribution of Sustainable Development; it is stated that a greenbelt of approximately 22.72 ha will be created around the reservoir. According to Mr. H.B.Rai, Ex-Block officer of Majhitar Bazar, no such amount of land is available near the proposed reservoir site for block plantation, as it is already surrounded by forest. It is not even feasible to create such amount of land around the proposed reservoir site for raising plantation.

Section F.2 (iii) of the project design document, says that a hatchery including nursing ponds, rearing ponds and stocking pond would be built in the vicinity of the Ranjit river. Local villagers are also not aware of this proposed hatchery and it is not clear who will manage and control over this hatchery.

Section F.2. of the PDD states that approximately Rs. 3.29 crore ($US 71000) has been allocated by the project developer for mitigating the environmental impacts, but the stake holders of the projects, i.e, the local people are totally in dark of this allocation of fund.

Section F.2(x) of the PDD says that a total of 34.36 ha of land is required for the project, of it 30.34 ha of the required land belongs to the forestland. The acquisition of this forest land for the project activity is a potential leakage factor, which has not been addressed in the project design document.

Jorethang Loop Hydroelectric Project is a proposed project under CDM. But, surprisingly the project participants (DANS Energy Privae Ltd) have not informed the local people regarding their involvement in the CDM activity at all.

Prepared by
Arindam Das & Arnab Bhattacharya
North Eastern Society for Preservation of Nature (NESPON)
September 2006