Silently, Tehri slips into its key phase
To placate VHP (and ‘save’ Bhagirathi river), a pipe is fitted
in one of the tunnels
JAIN & S M A KAZMI
NEW DELHI/DEHRA DUN, DECEMBER 5: FOR the first time in
two decades, a key and controversial phase in the construction
of the Tehri dam has begun. The gates of two diversion tunnels
have been shut to form a reservoir, officials said. And the
bridge that connects Tehri to the rest of Uttaranchal has
been made out of bounds.
on the two main diversions tunnels, T-3 and T-4, now carrying
the waters of the Bhagirathi, started two days ago. Out of
the total 16 gates, 11 gates were in place, partially blocking
the flow of the river. Tehri Tehri Hydro Development Corporation
(THDC) authorities said all the gates of the tunnels were
blocked by Wednesday, marking the completion of one of the
most important phases of the 2,400 MW Tehri Hydro Electric
actual flooding will take place right now because the level
of the water is not much,’’ said Radha Raturi, district magistrate,
Tehri. In this phase, the dam would reach a level of 636 metres.
Two colonies are going to be submerged — Valmiki colony with
30 families, Suman colony with 5 families. ‘‘All these people
have been rehabilitated in New Tehri,’’ said Raturi.
to the surprise and relief of the (THDC) authorities, they
encountered no local opposition. For one, Sundarlal Bahugana,
who has led the movement to oppose the dam since 1987, is
unwell and in Delhi. And Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) chief
Ashok Singhal, who had threatened a fast unto death saying
the water of the holy Ganges would get polluted if ‘‘the water
was stopped even for an hour’’, seems to have been suitably
committee headed by Union Human Resource Development Minister
Murli Manohar Joshi has reached a consensus that a four-inch
diameter pipe would be fitted in one of the tunnels to ensure
a continuous flow of the Bhagirathi waters. The Bhagirathi
river meets Alaknanda to form Ganga at Devprayag.
representatives, when contacted in Delhi, said they were satisfied
with the solution. ‘‘We have not submitted any report. But
we have spoken to Joshiji and the fact that this pipe will
be laid is good enough,’’ said Giriraj Kishore of the VHP.
other flashpoint for agitators was the Bhagirathi bridge which
connects 200 villages of Tehri to Uttranchal. That too will
be declared out of bounds tomorrow. An alternate bridge called
the Zero bridge has been built, but it isn’t acceptable to
local residents because it involves an extra 14-kilometre
detour. Authorities were expecting trouble as usual and work
began under high security cover. ‘‘We were surprised that
there was no opposition. We were all prepared. Even Bahuguna’s
family has agreed to move from their positions near the bridge,’’
said Raturi. Around 800 shopkeepers, who were main protestors,
have reportedly been rehabilitated.
75 per cent of work on the dam site has been completed, the
only hindrance in the completion of work were various agitations
demanding better. Over one lakh people from 109 villages,
which would be submerged in the waters of the reservoir once
the two tunnels are closed, are to be rehabilitated in Pashulok
and Pathri areas of Dehra Dun and Hardwar districts respectively.