Hydraulic Energy or popularly known as hydroelectric power is the source of energy produced by the water when stored in reservoirs and lakes at a high altitude. This gravitational potential energy is then converted into kinetic energy when it is allowed to run off and run the turbine
Hydroelectric power in India has a distinct historical significance as most of the early power generating stations developed was developed before the independence of India, were hydro-electric in nature. One of these, namely the Sumera Hydroelectric Power Plant is located in the Aligarh District in UP is one of the earliest power plant built by the colonizers, with the capacity to produce a miniscule 2,000 kilo Watt. It has also been ingrained into the national rhetoric as Jawaharlal Nehru imagined dams as “New Temple of Resurgent India.”
Uttar Pradesh has major hydroelectric plants such as the Babail Hydro Power Plants, Belka Hydro Power Plants & Matatila Hydro Power Plants. Even though hydroelectric power has an allure, most of the hydroelectric dams massively disrupt the surviving ecology. These dams require massive amounts of land and a lot of locals are displaced with or without adequate compensation. The Rihand Dam of the river Son located in southern U.P. in this regard has displaced thousands from 146 villages. The livelihood of the displaced depends largely on the existing local conditions of land and a specific habitat. Turning away from these conditions not only leaves them incapable of earning anything for a short time but also destroys the earlier skillset valuable in the previous local economy. Hence, any compensation given to the displaced would not be adequate unless it comes in the form of a skill training. Other problems of displacement such as lack of proper information, the undervaluation of compensation and its payment in cash, failure to prepare a comprehensive plan for rehabilitation in advance, delayed relocation, problems at relocation sites and neglect of the disadvantaged groups are one of the many factor which haunt such hydroelectric projects.
If that was not enough, the environmental cost is always ignored when auctioning rights for any hydroelectric dam. Some of the spillovers of this disastrous state of nature erupted in 2013 in Uttatakhand and resulted in massive floods, destruction and loss of human life and property. Large dams are almost always constructed without a holistic view of ecosystems surrounding the dam. In Europe or in the US dams are being decommissioned and rivers are re-engineered inspired by ecological concerns.
Such hydroelectric dams also dry up the river as it stops the natural flow of water and kills vegetation in not only the areas on which it is constructed but also the areas whose water supply is cut off. The submerged forests the ravaged ecosystems, the destroyed ecosystem, the reservoirs filled up with slit, the disappearing biodiversity and the thousands of hectares of land that are either water-logged or salt-affected. The construction of a new dam in Dudhi tehsil in the Maoist-affected Sonbhadra district, namely the Kanhar Dam also faces similar consequences. No one bears the cost of these disasters.
The evidence against Big Dams alarmingly summing up with dam-induced floods and failed irrigation projects. Yet there has never been an official audit or post-project evaluation of a single Big Dam to see the results it has achieved. Whether or not the costs were justified, or even what the costs actually were are yet to officially ever estimated.
When mega-dams in the West are increasingly being criticized for being economically unsound, socially harmful and environmentally hazardous, the Indian Bureaucrat and Politician is keen to borrow ideas and practices from a bygone era of the West. But with exceedingly new dams with fancy propaganda in Kutubpur (550 KW) and Dhakauli (300 KW) in Meerut, Betwa-1 (1800 KW) in Jhansi and Akbarpur (750 KW) in Bulandshahar, one might question how these dams come into being?
A nexus of uninformed policy makers, inept politicians and greedy contractors are taking advantage of this knowledge gap pursue their self-interest through the myth that large dams are the only means of ensuring water and power security.