Thanks to lapses on the part of the state forest department, Himachal Pradesh could lose as many as 20,000 trees. The forest department has given a go ahead to a power transmission corridor in a highly eco-sensitive zone.
The forest department has recently allowed Jaypee Powergrid Ltd (JPL), a joint venture of the Jaiprakash Hydro-Power Ltd and the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd, to lay the power transmission corridor from Karcham in Kinnaur district to Abdulhapur in Haryana.
The 230-km long corridor will cost around Rs.932 crore.
The department in a shocking move have allowed the JPL to lay the transmission lines from the thickly wooded area from the left bank of the Satluj river, which is under a thick forest cover, whereas the right bank is almost barren. Now simply because of the lapses on the part of the forest department, more than 20,000 trees will face the axe.
JPL had submitted its proposal to the forest department for the diversion of forest land located on the left bank of the river for constructing the power corridor. Working in a typical governmental fashion the department apparently forwarded the proposal to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for final clearance without studying the impact of the transmission network on forests. Acting on the recommendations of the state government, the ministry also gave its nod to the corridor. 320 hectares of forest area would be diverted for the project.
Had the transmission lines passed through the other side of the river, the forest loss would be just 10 percent of the total estimated loss. JPL had opted for the left bank of the river as the construction cost was higher on the right side since the right bank was not connected to the road. The development of infrastructure like roads and bridges would escalate the cost of laying the lines by Rs.100 crore alone.
According to forest department estimates, over 9,000 hectares of forest land has so far been diverted to non-forest use. Of this, 7,000 hectares were used for hydel projects.