Planned Mongolian HPP will cause environmental disaster in one of the oldest lakes on earth - Social News XYZ

Planned Mongolian HPP will cause environmental disaster in one of the oldest lakes on earth – Social News XYZ

A planned Mongolian HPP will cause an environmental catastrophe in one of the oldest lakes on the planet

New Delhi, November 30 (SocialNews.XYZ) Russian environmentalists and conservationists have sounded the alarm as Mongolia resumes its Blue Horse infrastructure program.

The country’s water security program calls for the construction of 33 dams on 13 rivers. According to the government, it aims to boost the national energy sector, agriculture and water security and provide more electricity to industry and cities across the country.

However, this could cause irreparable environmental damage to both Mongolia and Russia, especially to the ecosystems of the Irkutsk region and Buryatia, as well as many Unesco World Heritage sites, including Lake Baikal.

Faced with the deteriorating geopolitical situation around Russia, Mongolian officials decided to strike the hot iron and treat the launch of the project as a fait accompli.

However, Russian environmentalists and academics say the program still needs to pass the necessary environmental checks and be approved by all bordering states. The country seems determined to launch these projects unilaterally, without considering their impact and side effects.

One of these projects is the Uldza River Dam, measuring 9 to 12 meters in height, aimed at creating a water reservoir of 27 million cubic meters.

The Uldza is the main tributary of the salt and endorheic lakes of Torey, which are part of the Dauria Landscapes, a Russian-Mongolian cross-border UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. The biodiversity of these lakes depends on the natural cyclic fluctuations of the water level.

According to the researchers, the Uldza Dam would disrupt the natural water cycle and cause permanent changes to the Torey Lakes ecosystems, wiping out dozens of waterfowl and shorebird species in East Asia.

Construction at Uldza was unannounced and was only detected in 2020 through satellite imagery. The Unesco World Heritage Committee said it was extremely concerned that construction of the dam had started without prior notification and demanded that it be suspended until the impact of the project on natural ecosystems has been carefully considered.

As a result, Mongolia was forced by the committee to halt construction, as no progress has been made since spring 2021.

However, in April 2022, another hydropower plant with a capacity of 90 MW was launched near the border with the Altai Republic, Russia. The Erdeneburen Dam is being constructed on the Khovd River, a crucial water source for the Great Lakes trough watershed in northwest and western Mongolia.

The Khovd River feeds Khar-Us Lake and the vast wetlands around it, which are home to a biosphere of international importance. Apart from the lake mentioned above, the wetland also includes the neighboring lakes Khar and D?rg?n.

The cross-border tributaries of the Khovd River come from the Mongolian territories adjacent to the Altai roller coaster, rather than from the Chinese border area. In other words, ignoring the environmental concerns surrounding PPH will invariably affect the biosphere of adjacent Russian regions.

Several Mongolian experts are said to have opposed the construction of the hydropower plant without a thorough environmental impact assessment, correctly assuming that the project as it stands would cause significant damage to the river, its tributaries and the entire biosphere of the region. This would undermine the international status of these vast wetlands. Unfortunately, the concerns of Russian and Mongolian experts fall on deaf ears when it comes to the Mongolian government.

The Mongolian Blue Horse program – infamous in Russia for being the most disruptive to the country’s natural wealth – aims to create the Egiin Gol hydroelectric power station with an estimated capacity of 315 MW.

The facility is to be built on the eponymous river, the largest tributary of the Selenga River – the main source of water for Lake Baikal. The plant could therefore significantly disrupt the world-famous lake ecosystem.

According to the plan, the hydroelectric dam is to be 740 meters long, 82 meters high and 8 meters wide along the ridge, located about 24 km from the mouth of the Egiin Gol river. The reservoir created will cover an area of ​​154.3 square kilometers and will house approximately 5.7 billion cubic meters of water.

In the 2010s, the Egiin Gol hydropower plant was to be part of a large MINIS project in Mongolia, which included three dams to divert water and generate electricity for the country’s mining industry, Alexander said. Kolotov. In Russia, in multiple public discussions about the project, locals and scientists have spoken out strongly against it. This led the World Bank and Chinese investors to withdraw their support for the project, while the UNESCO World Heritage Committee demanded an assessment of the impact of HPPs on the biodiversity and ecosystem of Lake Baikal and the Selenga basin.

Now, Mongolia has decided to pull the project out of limbo, by dismissing the stakeholders. They have apparently forgotten that Lake Baikal is protected by UNESCO and that potentially dangerous projects can only proceed after a preliminary environmental impact assessment and public debates, including those taking place in Russia.

Lake Baikal is one of the oldest lakes on the planet and the largest freshwater lake in existence. The slightest disturbance to the lake’s ecosystem could cause irreparable damage, not only to Russia and Mongolia, but also to other neighboring countries, such as China.

Source: IANS

A planned Mongolian HPP will cause an environmental catastrophe in one of the oldest lakes on the planet

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