In a letter to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said he hoped that the state would not approve any project that destroys the serenity and splendour of the Valley.
"I am sure that you share fascination of many Indians for the famed Valley of Flowers and would not agree to any project that would destroy its serenity, splendour and its riches," he said in his letter.
Ramesh's reservation about the proposal came after he was approached by prominent environmentalist Chandi Prasad Bhatt who alleged that the 23.4 MW power project in the Bhuidar Valley being at the very tip of the famed valley would damage the unique flora and fauna in the region.
"...I agree with (Bhatt) that such a project would have serious consequences for the wonderfully rich biodiversity in this area," Ramesh said of the protected biosphere nestled in Himalayas which is under intense pressure due to an increased flow of tourists and pilgrims.
He was of the opinion that the project would have serious environmental repercussion in the national park, which is internationally important on account of its diverse alpine flora and fauna.
The Congress leader reminded the BJP-led Uttarakhand government that "earlier too there was a proposal to divert the Bhuidarganga waters for the Vishnuprayag hydel project but thanks to the intervention of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi (both former Prime Ministers), the proposal was dropped by the (then) UP government in 1986."
The move is likely to leave the power-starved state fuming as the Centre had a few months back scrapped the 600 MW dam Loharinag Pala hydel project being constructed by the NTPC on Bhagirathi river near Uttarkashi.
Two projects on Bhagirathi -- 480 MW Pala Maneri and 381 MW Bhairon Ghati hydel projects -- proposed by the state government have already been put on hold.
The Centre has plans to declare the 135-km stretch between Gomukh and Uttarkashi as an eco-sensitive zone under the Environmental Protection Act. Once this happens, no development projects will be allowed in the zone.