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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

India to build 292 Dams in Himalayas causing 8% reduction in Indus River water

Government of India (GOI) aims to build 292 hydroelectric dams throughout the Indian Himalaya over the next several decades. India Govt is embarking on a fast-track dam-building program, which will result in roughly a dam every 20 miles. If completed, the 7,000- to 11,000-megawatt dams will double current hydropower capacity and will meet about 6% of projected national energy needs by 2030. India's total carbon emissions are projected to more than double by 2030, with the use of coal set to expand. New dams can play dual role, helping to limit carbon emissions while providing power to needy people.

Indian government is not been hesitant about relocating its citizens. India is second only to China in embracing the practice. Estimates of the number of people already displaced by Indian dams in past decades range from 16.4 million to 40 million. Because India has not approached the subject of resettlement in a people-friendly way, its citizens are organizing more powerful resistance movements against hydropower development. It included protest by Tawang people mostly monks and villagers led by Save Mon Region Federation (SMRF) on 25 December 2012 in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh. It also included media coverage of the divastating situation resulting in protest against Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project, although such efforts receive relatively little attention in the Western press.

Dams on Indian Himalayas

Impact on species and ecosystems will be disastrous according to an estimate by Dr. Grumbine and Dr. Pandit that was published on 26 December 2012 in Conservation Biology. The dams are proposed in areas of the Himalayas that are rich in biodiversity. And their creation threatens to submerge over 130,000 acres of forest, which would probably push 22 plants and seven vertebrate groups into extinction by 2025, according to an estimate by Dr. Grumbine and Dr. Pandit that was published earlier this year in Conservation Biology.

How this dam-building exercise will affect communities and ecosystems in neighboring downstream countries like Pakistan Bangladesh is not discussed much. Scientists predict that by 2050, the water supply from the Brahmaputra and Indus — two major rivers among the 28 that would receive dams — will decrease by about 20 percent and 8 percent, respectively. These water-supply reductions will cut the rivers' capacity to produce electricity, and in reult undermine the dams' purpose.

India loses about 20 to 30 percent of the total power it generates annually, as a result of poor grid transmission and energy theft. This amount is greater than current hydropower production. If power losses could be reduced, the need for building more dams would lessen.

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