The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has authorised the closure of the final T-2 tunnel, a necessary measure in order to make the first 1000MW phase of the controversial 2400MW project operational and mandatory to fill the 45km reservoir.

Construction on the 260m high dam was completed in March this year, and authorities say the T-2 should be closed by October 2005. The only thing left to build is the shaft spillway, construction of which can begin now the T-2 has been dealt with.

The Tehri dam project has not been without incident. It was initially conceptualised in the late 1960s with work beginning in 1978, but construction has been halted on several occasions since.

Tragedy struck recently when in August 2004 at least 29 people were killed in a landslide at the site of the dam, caused by rising floodwaters in the Bhagirathi river.

Then in early 2005, delays with the implementation of the dam lead to escalating costs with the project now costing an estimated US$1.5B.

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