Achieving meaningful public participation in the environmental assessment of hydro development: case studies from Chamoli District, Uttarakhand, India
Uttarakhand, India has great potential for hydro development because of its mountainous environment and fast flowing rivers. While growth in the hydro sector could facilitate industrial development and improve social well-being in the state, it could also have severe negative impacts on social–ecological systems. Using a qualitative methodology involving a review of documents, field observations, and over 100 interviews with government, industry officials and community members, the research investigated two large hydro projects in the Chamoli District. The results show that public participation in project planning and implementation did not exemplify characteristics of meaningful involvement. The participation processes would have been improved with greater opportunities for advanced, decentralised, and more active local involvement. The conclusion is that the central and state governments should play a more assertive role in regulating large-scale hydro development in Uttarakhand, to facilitate meaningful public participation and to protect local environmental, economic and social interests.
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