Baglihar HEP putting lives at risk in Doda region

Govt in slumber as threat of mountain collapse looms large over area along the banks

Baglihar HEP putting lives at risk in Doda regionThe Jammu and Kashmir Government seems to be in deep slumber in addressing the woes of people living on the bank of the Baglihar hydroelectric project reservoir as the threat of mountain collapse looms large over the area.
Stagnant water of the reservoir, after entering the loose soil, is bringing down rocks and soil slowly, which has created a situation which can lead to sinking of a huge portion of the mountains.
Geological experts have warned the state government of a possible disaster, but successive governments have ignored all recommendations and not taken any measure to treat the area and end sinking and sliding of land.
But now, the situation has reached a level wherein the effect of the reservoir is reaching the top of mountains and sliding occurring on a regular basis.
The authorities are not ready to accept their failure in treating the area and a huge amount of money has been spent on paper to show that the requisite treatment has been done.
Baglihar catchment area signboards have been installed on the Batote-Kishtwar national highway to give an impression that treatment has been done.
A hamlet on the northern bank is on the verge of sinking as a huge portion of the mountain has developed cracks, visible from the Batote-Kishtwar national highway.
A major landslide has already occurred in the area and its effect is increasing. The Baglihar project authorities are not willing to accept their fault and are putting the onus on others.
“The reservoir was opened in 2008. Its effect on the environment has come down to a negligible level now. The damage may be taking place due to road construction and rain,” claimed Abdul Wahid, Chief Engineer of the project.
Work on the 900-MW project had been started in 1999 with the aim of making the state self-reliant in power generation. It was the first big hydroelectric project of the state government.
The 450-MW first phase was commissioned by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2008. Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned the second phase on November 7 last year and power generation reached the maximum.
On both occasions, no one talked about the economic hazards of this project and did not speak a word about the people who suffered and continued to face the brunt.
Sources said when the project was envisioned and work started, no geological report was sought and recommendations of geological experts who had raised an alarm not considered.
Attempts had then been made to stifle the voice of many experts and environmentalists and work started with the lives of lakhs of people living in the erstwhile Doda district at risk, said a source.