Pithoragarh, July 5
Residents of the Pancheshwar valley have written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to visit the area to ascertain whether the construction of a mega dam on the Kali river at Pancheshwar in Champawat along the Nepal border would benefit locals. India and Nepal have agreed to sign an agreement regarding the construction of the Pancheshwar dam on the Kali in Champawat.
More than one lakh residents of the Pancheshwar valley in India and 50,000 in Nepal will become homeless if the hydropower project is constructed. “We are worried that we will lose our ancestral place if the dam is constructed,” said Sobi Chand, a retired Army man who is leading a campaign against the project .
“The Pancheshwar valley is situated 65 km from the district headquarters and is still without roads, communication, medical and educational facilities. We were hoping the government would include our area in the developmental process, but instead it seems bent upon depriving us of our homes and hearths by agreeing to the construction of the Pancheshwar dam,” said Chand who sent the letter to Prime Minister today.
The Pancheshwar valley residents have requested the Prime Minister that he should speak about their development issues and threat of displacement in his popular radio programme “Man ki Baat”. “We do not want to see our birthplace sink in water. Instead we want facilities of roads, electricity, water and better healthcare for over 1 lakh population of the area,” said Chand.
Though district administration officials termed as mere speculation the talks of the construction of the dam, the valley residents are fearful as political parties and social groups have started mobilising people against the project.
“We have not received any orders for the dam construction and rehabilitation of people. We have only information that a CWC team is doing a survey for the proposed dam,” said Anurag Arya, SDM, Pithoragarh headquarters.
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