Spell out stand on burning issues: Tribals to parties

SHIMLA: Tribals of three constituencies — Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Bharmour — have come out with a clear cut poll agenda for the BJP, the Congress and the CPM for the November 9 state Assembly elections: ban power projects, allot nautor land under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and develop the tribal belt as an eco and adventure tourism hub.

laxmi@tribune.com

Kuldeep Chauhan 

Tribune News Service 

Shimla, November 4

Tribals of three constituencies — Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Bharmour — have come out with a clear cut poll agenda for the BJP, the Congress and the CPM for the November 9 state Assembly elections: ban power projects, allot nautor land under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and develop the tribal belt as an eco and adventure tourism hub. They have asked the political parties and their candidates to spell out a clear-cut stand on these burning tribal issues. 

“The BJP and the Congress did not resolve these issues over the years despite that they have been proposing these issues in their election manifesto”, said Ranjeet Negi, president, Janlok Jagriti Manch, Kinnaur, an NGO, which has sent a memorandum to the Congress and the BJP. “The tribal belt is facing eco-degradation and climate change due to power projects. Water sources and villages face threat. No nautor land is given under the FRA 

so far”, he added. 

 “Both ruling Congress and BJP are misleading tribals on the issue of ban on big hydropower projects in Lahaul-Spiti”, said convener, Sheli power project sangharsh samiti of Udaipur, an NGO of tribals of Lahaul-Spiti. The NGO has joined hands with the Jispa Bandh Jan Sangharsh Samiti (JBJSS led by Ringzin Hayarpa. 

They sent a memorandum to PMr Narendra Modi and wrote to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to cancel the 260 MW Jispa Dam project in the snow-bound Jipa-Darcha Valley. Instead, the Centre has speeded up the Jispa Dam that aims to store about 0.8 million acre feet of water to feed 11 major power projects downstream in the Chenab basin under the Indus Water Treaty signed with Pakistan. 

Like other big projects, the tribals have opposed Jispa Dam as they say it will spell doom for the Jispa and Darcha Valley. “See what the 1000 MW Karcham-Wangtoo has done to tribals in Kinnaur. We have asked parties to clear stand on big power projects but so far they are silent on this. Instead we want tribal belt to be developed as an eco and adventure tourism hub”, said NGOs. 

In the 2012 Assembly elections, Congress candidates - Ravi Thakur from Lahaul-Spiti, Thakur Singh Bharmouri from Bharmour and Jagat Negi from Kinnaur — won all three tribal segments. This time, the BJP has changed its candidate- Jiya Lal Kapur from Bharmour, but its two other candidates — Ram Lal Markande from Lahaul-Spiti and Tejwant Negi from Kinnaur face their familiar Congress political rivals on November 9. 

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