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Hul 1&2 small hydropower projects, HP, India

Small but not so beautiful; stiff opposition to small hydelprojects in Western Himalayas bring plans to a halt. Are small size projects always less harmful than large ones?


The 4.5 MW Hul-1 hydroelectricity project is proposed in the Saal valley of Chamba District in Himachal Pradesh. The project is proposed to be built on the Hul stream or nallah of Saal River, a tributary of the Ravi river. On the entire stretch of Saal river, a spate of mini and micro hydroprojects have been proposed by the government of Himachal Pradesh. A similar small project on the same stream, Hul-2 was cancelled by the state government in 2007 on account of its impact on the drinking water supply to the adjoining Chamba town and irrigation for the vegetable growing areas downstream of the project.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Hul 1&2 small hydropower projects, HP, India
State or province:Himachal Pradesh
Location of conflict:Saal valley, Chamba district
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity
Carbon offsets
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The diversion structure (a 5km long pipeline) of the project is to be constructed in the Sillaghart panchayat which will divert water from three streams. The power house is proposed to come up in Kalehun village of Jadera panchayat. The water will be taken out of the stream at a height of 1642 metres and re- released at 1313 metres. The total length of Saal river flowing through Chamba is 25 kms, and the Hul 1 (4.5 MW) hydroelectric project would disturb approximately 5 kms, or one fourth of its flow.

Type of populationRural
Affected Population:5 Panchayats (villages)
Start of the conflict:2003
Company names or state enterprises:Hul Hydro Power Private Limited from India - Developer
First Climate from Germany - Investment consultant
First Climate (India) Private Limited from India - Investment consultant
M/S Astha Project from India
M/S First Hydro Generation Private Limited from India
Relevant government actors:High Court, District Commissioner at Chamba, District Forest Officer at Chamba, Chief Minister, State Forest Minister, State Power Minister, Chief Secretary, Department of MPP&Power, Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board
International and Finance InstitutionsUnited Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change/CDM (UNFCC)
Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board (CDM Executive Board)
Wexford Capital LLC from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Saal Ghaati Bachao Sangharsh Morcha
Himalaya Niti Abhiyan
Himalaya Bachao Samiti
Chamba Welfare Association
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Other Environmental impactsAccording to survey conducted by Sal Ghati Bachao Sangarsh Morcha, Chamba, there are 1782 trees of different species and 2045 bushes of local variety are falling in the path of proposed five km open water channel for Hul-1.
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsClose to 25 gharats are functional with the water of Hul nallah which would be forced to shut down, thus effecting the main source of livelihoods of 25 families that depend upon them.
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:Not to build the hydelprojects as they would heavily affect local economy.
This whole region is known for milk, ghee and honey production which depends on the local bushes and fodder available in the forest. This is a type of economy people wants to protect and continue.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Though the Hul-2 project had been cancelled in year 2007 by the committee constituted under the chairmanship of ADM Chamba, the fight is ongoing for Hul 1. The case has also revealed the bias of the State Government which has gone all out to protect the project proponents by offering them police protection, but has chosen to overlook the fundamental Right to Life of those protesting to protect their land and water.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Forest Rights Act 2006

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

UNFCCC Project Design Document
[click to view]

Assessing the Impact of Hydroelectric Project construction on the Rivers of

District Chamba of Himachal Pradesh in the Northwest Himalaya, India - Haresh Kumar Sharma and Pawan Kumar Rana

International Research Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 3(2), 21-25, February (2014)
[click to view]

[1] Asher, M., Bhandari P. - Small but not so beautiful
[click to view]

[2] India Water Portal. Manu Moudgil, A case against small hydropower
[click to view]

[3] Chamba villagers oppose hydro project
[click to view]

[4] The Shukla Report
[click to view]

[5] SANDRP - Objection to Proposed CDM Status for 4.5 MW Hul SHP in Himachal Pradesh, India
[click to view]

[6] CDM documentation
[click to view]

[7] Struggle Against Hull Hydro Projects, Chamba, Himachal Pradesh
[click to view]

Asher, M., Thakur K., A Himalayan Sell Out - Down to Earth
[click to view]

Chronology of the conflict (until Feb 2010)
[click to view]

International Rivers - Samir Metha's report from field report, part 2
[click to view]

Subir Gosh, Power company goons assault villagers protesting project in Himachal
[click to view]

Sanhati - Contractors attack leaders protesting against Hul Hydro Project
[click to view]

International Rivers - Samir Metha's report from field report, part 1
[click to view]

A Posco in Himachal: Locals oppose hydel power projects
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Presentation by Grassroots Institute
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Daniela Del Bene, ICTA - UAB (
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1871
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