Environment Research and Action in Himachal Pradesh

Hydropower: Tunneling the rivers

It was between 1950 and 1990, that large dams like Bhakhra, Pong, Chamera I and Pandoh were constructed, dislocating communities and traditional livelihood systems due to their huge reservoirs. Even though the focus of the State remained on enhancing horticulture, agriculture and tourism based livelihoods, the development thrust required generation of more power and irrigation facilities for the country.

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BBN: Himachal’s Toxic Zone

The Baddi, Barotiwala and Nalagarh (BBN) in Nalagarh tehsil of Solan District has witnessed rapid industrialization since 2003 when the BJP led government at the Centre announced an industrial subsidy package for the state. Since then an investment of over Rs 4260 crores, into over 3950 registered industrial units has happened. A large number of the units here are polluting in nature, like pharmaceuticals, chemicals, plastics, dying and boilers. Heavy extraction of ground water, ground water pollution, toxicity in air, fly ash and hazardous waste dumping have been the key problems that have arisen in a stretch of almost 35 kms with 21 Panchayats and 115 villages being affected.

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Mining: Hollowing the Himalayas

Because of its vast limestone deposits, the state of Himachal Pradesh has over the last 20years attracted several private players like Jaypee,ACC, Ambuja, CCI, Aditya-Birla and Lafarge. Limestone accounts for 75% of the value of mineral production in the state. The boom in the real estate market and infrastructure development after 2002 has motivated cement companies to tap the Northern region’s increasing demand for cement, thus accelerating limestone mining and cement manufacture in the state.

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