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FEATURE STORY

Vishnugad Pipalkoti Hydro Electric Project Status Update January 2012

January 20, 2012


Physical Work

Construction Progress

The VPHEP generating scheme will be constructed primarily through two large EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contracts, one for civil works and hydro-mechanical equipment works, and the other for electro-mechanical equipment works.

Bids for the EPC contract for civil works and hydro-mechanical equipment works were opened on May 30, 2011 and are currently at an advanced stage of evaluation. The pre-qualification document for the EPC contract for electro-mechanical equipment works, which need to start after the civil works, is being drawn up.

Management of Social Impacts

As a run-of-river project, VPHEP has comparatively limited land acquisition impacts which affect a total of 1,250 households (1,481 families with 5,294 persons) in 18 villages. Of these 1,481 families, 773 families are directly affected by loss of private land and/or structures, while the remaining 708 families are affected only by reduced access to grazing, fodder and fuel wood collection on government and van panchayat land (community held grazing and forest land).

The project will require a total of 141.57 ha of land comprising 31.639 ha of private land, 90.09 ha of government forest/grazing land, 10.3 ha of van panchayat land, and 9.54 ha of state land owned by the Public Works Department. The acquisition of private land affects seven villages, while the remaining 11 project-affected villages will lose access only to government forest/grazing and/or van panchayat land.

A total of 265 families (144 households) will be resettled under the project, and of these 92 percent are families from the village Haat, where the powerhouse is to be located, had proposed their land for acquisition by THDCIL, and expressed an interest in relocating to the other side of the river, which is considered more desirable in view of the proximity to the highway, markets, schools, other land holdings of many people from Haat. Even though most of the land that the people of Haat offered was not required by the project, THDCIL agreed to this proposal in the interest of minimizing the disturbance to the village.

Land Acquisition and Resettlement & Rehabilitation (R&R)

Out of 773 families entitled to R&R compensation, 392 families have received full or partial R&R payment. The majority of those families who have yet to receive R&R payment as of end December 2011 are from the village Haat. Disbursement of R&R compensation for the residents of Haat was awaiting the final approval by the Government of Uttarakhand of the land acquisition details. Final approval was granted by the state government in early January 2012, and R&R payments will soon commence.

Relocation Progress

As of mid-December, 29 households from Haat had received the first installment of the construction grant of Rs 1 million and, of these, 18 households had started the construction of their new houses on the left bank of the river at sites in Daswana and El Dana villages, in keeping with the agreed relocation plan for Haat. The critical step to enable timely implementation of the Haat relocation plan is completion of the land acquisition process. The compensation payments for the land are expected to be completed by end-March 2012.

Livelihood Restoration

In order to ensure that the livelihoods of local people are not adversely affected by the project, THDCIL has drawn up an Income Restoration Plan. Under this, the Company has assisted the affected villages to form 20 co-operative societies which undertake small community infrastructure works like road repairs, building bunds and gabion walls etc of value up to Rs 200,000.

THDCIL has also, to date, provided direct or indirect employment to 74 PAPs either in the Company or through contractors and as sub-contractors. These opportunities for employment will increase when the major construction works start.

THDCIL is constructing a small shopping centre in Jaisal near its staff colony. Ten of the total 14 shops will be allocated to PAFs from Jaisal village.

THDCIL is also helping PAPs get vocational training in various trades such as motor mechanics, marketing, hospitality, including a one-year diploma in hotel management from Dehradun.

Other income restoration schemes include distribution of (i) high-yield seeds at subsidized rates; (ii) fruit plants, (iii) certified seeds of coriander, ginger, pea, ginger, tulsi (holy basil) and lemon. Village-specific activities include dairy development in Guniyala, vermicomposting, and napier grass cultivation.

A more detailed Training Needs Assessment for individual PAPs will soon be conducted to better design individual livelihood restoration plans.

 

Local Area Development

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities have been well planned with the involvement of community and are being regularly implemented. So far, 28 students identified for scholarships have received their first installments. Under THDCIL's Corporate Social Responsibility program, a ropeway at Haat and a pathway in Jaisal have been completed at cost of Rs 700,000. Plans worth Rs 4.6 million are under implementation including pathways, widening of roads and bridges, rooms for schools, and protection walls.

Grievance Redress Committee (GRC)

The GRC established under the project is working well to address issues referred to it by project-affected people (PAPs). So far, 11 formal and 36 informal meetings of the GRC have taken place. In response to a suggestion from project-affected people the GRC will occasionally hold its meetings in project-affected villages rather than always in THDCIL's project office.

Monitoring and evaluation (M&E)

THDCIL has engaged an M&E consultant team whose quarterly reports will be available in the VPHEP Project Information Centre and on the THDC website.

Management of Environment Impacts

THDCIL has posted three environmental specialists at site to be responsible for the implementation of the Environment Management Plan, and the dedicated Social and Environmental cell headed by a Senior Manager is fully operational at site.

Muck Disposal

THDCIL has made arrangements for the effective disposal of the debris that will be generated by the excavation works. It has identified four sites and, after approval from the Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board, designated them as the areas where the muck will be delivered. The contract document for the civil works will mandate the contractor to dump the debris in only these areas and to build strong retaining walls to ensure that no muck falls into the river.

Catchment Area Treatment Plans

The Company has budgeted Rs 47 lakh for improving and restoring the catchment area; this important activity will be implemented by the State Forest Department on the basis of funds provided by THDCIL. The Company will liaise closely with the Department on a detailed plan for implementation and monitoring of the CAT Plan.

Monitoring

THDCIL is preparing a consolidated environmental monitoring format based on the EMP and on activities mandated by (a) the environment and forest clearances, (b) the conditions of the Pollution Control Board's NOC to the project, (c) actions agreed with community during public hearings of the project, (d) ISO 14001 requirements; and (e) any other requirements identified in the bid documents. THDCIL is also engaging a third-party external agency to monitor environmental parameters and CAT Plan activities.


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