Dams not villians, but victims of Uttarakhand floods: Jindal Power MD

Panaji, Aug 4 (IANS) Dams across the Ganga were not villains in the Uttarakhand flood tragedy which claimed about a thousand lives and left several thousand missing, but victims, said Jayawant Kawale, managing director of Jindal Power, in the Goa capital.

Kawale, whose special area of operation at the firm relates to hydro and renewable energy, was addressing policymakers and regulators during a retreat for them organised Saturday by the Independent Power Producers Association of India (IPPAI).

According to the top official, the way ahead for India was to tap hydel power and not coal, which he said was both polluting and expensive.

"Uttarakhand was an extreme weather event that turned into a disaster owing to rampant deforestation, failure to reforest, unbridled construction and poor disaster response. They (the floods) were not caused by or worsened by the hydro projects. Instead they were mitigated by the Tehri Dam project," Kawale said in his presentation.

He however blamed other factors like fast urbanisation, illegal constructions, deforestation and slack administration for the tragedy in Uttarakhand, which started with unprecedented floods and cloudbursts June 16, and worsened because of poorly planned and rampant construction on the hills and sloppy administrative response to the tragedy.

Dams, Kawale said, were expensive to construct and early infrastructure costs were high, but the investment paid off in the long run.

"With coal, owing to rising import costs, the cost of power generated would only go up," he said.

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