Nepal, hydroelectricity, India, West Seti Hydroelectric Project (WSHP), climate change, human rights violations
Construction may soon begin on the West Seti Hydroelectric Project (WSHP) in the western region of Nepal. The 750-megawatt facility, which will produce power primarily for export to India, involves construction of a 195-meter high dam on the Seti River that will inundate over 2000 hectares of land. The resulting reservoir, developments downstream of the dam, and transmission lines running from the WSHP are predicted to affect 18,269 people in 2,421 households, requiring an estimated 1,393 of those households to be resettled.
In light of the severe and long-term consequences of unwise development of a major dam project such as the WSHP—a project which will irreversibly destroy ecosystems, permanently alter land and water use in the development region, necessitate relocation and resettlement of thousands of people, and require investment of vast sums of government and private funds—this paper addresses the significant omissions in the WSHP’s EIA in an attempt to ensure that development of the project, if pursued, proceeds only with full disclosure of its possible costs and benefits. Only through such disclosure will development of the project be consistent with the human rights of the Nepali people. In Part II, this paper highlights the key climate change-related omissions from the EIA that render its portrayal of the project misleading. Then, in Part III, it discusses how the inadequate EIA violates the human rights of Nepalese people as guaranteed under both domestic Nepalese and international law. In Part IV, the paper suggests some promising options that advocates can use to remedy those violations. Finally, in Part V, this paper broadens the discussion beyond the West Seti; and illustrates how climate change-related considerations may affect other major development projects’ environmental and economic costs and benefits, and therefore should increasingly be taken into account during project selection and design. It then identifies how, if such considerations are not adequately addressed, advocates can seek to remedy those failings by employing the same or analogous strategies suggested for use in the case of the WSHP.”
(2010) 27 Pace Environmental Law Review 511