Hit by Hydro projects, villagers struggle for basic facilities
While the Government is focusing on the Pancheshwar dam project, numerous villagers hit by the construction of hydro power projects at Tehri, Vishnuprayag, Vishnugad-Pipalkoti and Asi Ganga are still struggling to get land based rehabilitation and are struggling even for basic facilities.
While no serious efforts appear to be taken for the project affected villagers, the authorities are now moving on to construct the Pancheswar project, said the members of Matu Jansangathan and others who protested against the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in the national Capital on the issues related to the Pancheshwar dam project.
They alleged that the environmental impact assessment committee had completed its assessment of this major project in 45 minutes.
Among the protesters, Uttarakhand Ekta Manch member Harshil Nautiyal termed the Pancheshwar project an assault on the existence of the Himalaya.
Vimal Bhai of Matu Jansangathan said, “Since the second week of July this year, we have written to and also personally met the District Magistrates of the three districts to be affected by the project- Pithoragarh, Champawat and Almora along with the officials of the Ministries concerned.
However, the issues we raised were not addressed anywhere. Even the basic regulations for environmental public hearing have not been observed.
The entire Government machinery and political leaders of the ruling party are busy talking only about the expected benefits of the dam. They are preparing to brand as ‘Maoist’ the organisations that provide correct information about the dam or oppose the politics of large dams.
Uttarakhand chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has also hinted towards this. Instructions have been issued for the central ministries to remove obstacles in the way of execution of the Pancheshwar dam project and to somehow get the signatures of locals in the no-objection documents,” he alleged.
He further averred that it was for the first time in the history of the ministry that during the meeting of the environmental impact assessment committee for a river valley project, the locals and other people staged a protest demonstration. The Ministry gives only the dam proponent companies a chance to present its stance while the others are silenced, he averred.
The activists said that they had written to the committee stating their points in detail and were expecting that they would get a chance to put their issues in front of the environmental impact assessment committee. With this in mind, some of the affected villagers and members of different groups staged a dharna outside the MoEFCC but an appointment with the committee was not granted.
“In a mere 45 minutes, the EIA committee completed the assessment of this project costing about Rs 040,000 crore, which will lead to submergence of 12,000 hectare land in three districts of the state affecting about 40,000 families,” further alleged Vimal Bhai, adding that the questionable decisions of the EIA committee will be challenged in the future too.
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