"A majority of the members of the panel have consensus that the hydropower projects aggravated the damage to surroundings. There is adequate scientific evidence to prove that," Mail Today quoted a senior member of the committee who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
In its report submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday, the 11-member panel strongly suggested the enactment of legislation for protecting small but significant rivers and designating "eco-sensitive zones" for all rivers in the state.
It also sought the immediate notification of a "river regulation zone" by the ministry.
The apex court had on August 13 last year directed the environment ministry to constitute an expert committee to assess the impact of existing and under-construction hydro projects on the Uttarakhand disaster, and the possible impact of 24 proposed projects in the state on the biodiversity of the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi basins.
The spotlight has been turned anew on all hydropower projects in mountainous regions.
The expert committee was constituted after Supreme Court's order to assess the impact of existing and under-construction hydro projects on the Uttarakhand disaster, and the possible impact of 24 proposed projects in the state on the biodiversity of the Alakhnanda and Bhagirathi basin.
According to the report, the panel strongly suggested mandatory environmental clearance from the environment ministry for all projects of more than 2 MW that entail tunneling, barrages and reservoir construction, apart from clearance from the NBWL for projects falling in legally protected areas.