[Answered] Hydropower projects planned or under construction in the Himalayas are under threat due to hazards related to Climate Change. Comment.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain how hydropower projects in the Himalayas are under threat due to hazards related to Climate Change.Conclusion: Write a way forward.

With its steep topography and abundant water resources the Himalayas offer sustainable, low-carbon hydropower for energy-hungry South Asia. But three out of seven projects, Tapovan-Vishnugad (520 megawatts), Phata Byung (76 megawatts) and Singoli Bhatwari (99 megawatts), have already been severely damaged by floods and landslides in 2013 and 2021. Several other hydropower projects in the Himalayas have also suffered similar damage.

Threat due to hazards related to Climate Change:

  • Climate change has driven erratic weather patterns like increased snowfall and rainfall. The thermal profile of ice is increasing, making it more susceptible to melting.
  • Glacier retreat and permafrost thaw are projected to decrease the stability of mountain slopes and increase the number and area of glacier lakes.
  • Global warming is expected to lead to more glacier melt and extreme precipitation events in the region.
  • Many of the projects are significantly upslope in locations closer to glaciers and glacial lakes in high altitude areas, making them more hazard-prone.
  • The Himalayan region is in a seismic zone, so greater chances of earthquake, landslides, rock-ice avalanches, debris flow and lake outburst floods.
  • Lake outburst floods are often unpredictable and cause severe downstream damages to the infrastructure system such as hydropower.
  • The risks of increased erosion and sediment flow in the high mountains may reduce reservoir storage capacity, undercutting their supply of water for irrigation and power.
  • Temperature rise from climate change could increase rockfalls in the Himalayas.

Way forward:

  • An independent scientific assessment of the immediate or long-term implications of construction work for hydropower development should be commissioned.
  • Citizens’ engagement and public consent mechanisms need to be strengthened at the planning stage.
  • Microhydel project may be promoted, as these have less of an adverse social and environmental impact on local communities and are a very suitable for this region.
Print Friendly and PDF