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Assessing the role of land tenure in hydropower development for social and environmental effects

Ghimire, Subash (2011) Assessing the role of land tenure in hydropower development for social and environmental effects.

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Abstract:In many developing countries hydropower projects are not sustainable. Tenure issues such as tenure forms and its allocation, land acquisition procedure, land tenure stakeholders and their role are not considered in a hydropower development plan. Affected people cannot expect better livelihood from unsustainable development of any hydropower projects. This research aims to assess the role of land tenure in hydropower development for social and environmental effects. Desk research indicates that political decision making, planning and feasibility study, implementation and operation are key stages in hydropower development project. In order to assess the role of land tenure, an assessment framework is firstly developed within the scope of these stages. The primary and secondary data were collected in a case study site at the Upper Tamakoshi Hydroelectric Project (UTHEP) in Dolakha district of Nepal. Household questionnaire, key informants‟ interviews and field observation were conducted to collect primary data while the relevant documents such as detailed feasibility report, property valuation report and spatial data (cadastral data, image etc.) were also collected for the study. This research also reveals that the concession with broader negotiations and agreements is carried out for interfering the land rights for the construction of hydropower project in Norway because of which the Aurland hydropower project got successful while the UTHEP applies directly compulsory purchase to acquire land. Based on interview with Village Development Committee (VDC) heads, the coordination among the stakeholders is weak in the UTHEP which results in duplication of activities. After analysing data, it is found that social effect includes influx of workers in host communities in the project area which creates mix in culture between them promoting social unrest and disputes. The result also reveals that land conflicts such as low valuation, unfair compensation and non-timely compensation existed during land acquisition for the project. The results from secondary data and interviews confirm that UTHEP has planned to distribute 10% share to the residents of Dolakha district to promote local level investment. The result also indicates that livelihood of the people in the project area is becoming better day by day because of access to road, employment etc. Regarding the environmental effects, the result shows that there is loss of vegetation and trees by the project. Land use pattern is changed from agricultural land to built up area having project features. The disturbance in ecosystem and reduction of population, habitat and biodiversity of species are increased because of the project development. The landslides occur by the use of heavy equipment in construction activities. An assessment result indicates that overall environmental impacts are limited because of technological development such as tunnel and underground powerhouse in UTHEP. Finally, this research finds that concessions with broader negotiations, agreements and sharing of benefits should be carried out for sustainable project development. The comprehensive land use planning is to be prepared for hydropower development. The compulsory purchase of land is to be carried out with participation of affected people for sustainable development of the project. Governance principle should be maintained in all stages of hydropower development. The stakeholders‟ expectation/claim and interest should be considered during development and their role should be properly defined to avoid duplications. Land tenure has very important role in hydropower development for minimising negative social and environmental effects and should be focused in all stages of hydropower development to avoid cost and time overrun of the project. Keywords: Land tenure, Hydropower development, Land conflict, Sustainable development, Society and Environment.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ITC: Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation
Programme:Geoinformation Science and Earth Observation MSc (75014)
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