As per the forest report, the proposed 400-MW Sheli hydroelectricity power project on the Chenab River will be an ecological disaster in the high-altitude Lahaul-Spiti as over 12,800 big and small trees and 44,386 saplings will be destroyed or affected on 276.1875 hectare of forestland to be diverted for the project.
Forest report said that 10,160 class V and IV trees and 2,640 class III trees comprising deodar, kail, poplar and willow and 44,383 saplings of different species will be cut for making way for the project. The thick grove of forest meanders along the rushing Chenab in the lower Pattan valley will be trimmed and 33 seedlings wiped out. Even ecologists say the destruction of over 57,000 small and big trees and saplings will be an ecological disaster.
The Sheli Project Sangharsh Samiti has been opposing the project allotted to Moser Baer, citing its ecological and economic implications. Samiti convener Sudershan Thakur opposed the project and to save the greenery of the Pattan valley he demanded to scrap the project or to decrease the height of the dam.
Though on the other side, the company claims that there are 11,689 trees of various classes, 1,854 seedlings and 40,194 saplings which may be affected under the Miyar and Sheli projects. MoserBaer even claimed to have planted over 4,500 saplings in a plantation drive since 2011 and will plant about 6,000 more.
In all, the Forest Department will plant around 10,17,000 plants under its compensatory afforestation programme on 678 hectare funded by the company, which will contribute Rs 56 crore to the Local Area Development Fund and Rs 7.124 crore for undertaking various social development activities under the corporate social responsibility. Currently forest report has been sent to the Ministry of Environment and Forests for clearance under the Forest Conservation Act.