Impacts of Himalayan dams surveyed

Jan. 17, 2013 at 7:52 PM
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SINGAPORE, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- India's dam-building activities in the Himalayas are a risk to biodiversity and could pose a threat to human lives and livelihoods, researchers say.

Researchers from the National University of Singapore, along with Indian and Chinese colleagues, analyzed the impact of almost 300 dams and related hydropower infrastructure on the Himalayan rivers in some of the biggest river basins in the world, namely the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra.

Almost 90 percent of the Himalayan valleys would be affected by dam building and 27 percent of the dams have an impact on dense forests with unique biodiversity, they said.

Water withdrawals due to massive dam building activity would seriously damage fish habitats and limit fish migration in the rivers, with long-term consequences for the livelihoods of fishermen, the study concluded.

Due to high population density, many Indians have been displaced by dam construction, the researchers said.

"We are deeply aware of [India's] need to develop economically," Maharaj K. Pandit of the Singapore university said in a university release Thursday. "However, there is a need to balance development and not venture into haphazard dam building without caring for biodiversity and people."

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