‘No more hydel projects’ cry echoes in Kinnaur

Fuming over frequent landslips, locals say won’t allow further damage to fragile hills

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 26

The echo of “no more hydel projects” is reverberating in Kinnaur with villagers from across the tribal district converging at Reckong Peo to oppose indiscriminate digging of the fragile hills in the name of development.

Villagers today gathered at the district headquarters of Reckong Peo in large numbers to send a strong message to the authorities and power companies that people won’t allow any more power projects.

Holding banners and placards reading, “Save Kinnaur: No means no”, the villagers made it amply clear that they would not allow the coming up of the proposed 804 MW Jangi Thopan hydel project. Representatives of mahila mandals, youth bodies and panchayati raj institutions turned up to register their angst against environmentally degrading activities, especially hydel power generation.

Environmentalists and NGOs, including Him Lok Jagriti Manch, District Forest Rights Sangharsh Samiti and Kinnaur and Jangi Thopan Powari Affected Sangharsh Samiti, extended support to the locals.

Kinnaur has some of the biggest hydel projects, including 1,000 MW Karcham Wangtoo and 300 MW Baspa projects. All these projects besides the 1,500 MW Nathpa Jhakri project are located on the Sutlej.

Shanta Kumar Negi, president, Hungrung Sangharsh Samiti, said people had come together as they wanted “vikas” and not “vinaash”. The power companies would face a stiff opposition, he said.

“The recent disasters at Badseri and Nigulsari are warning signals against destabilising the hills,” says RS Negi, president, Himlok Jagriti Manch. “Though gram sabha NoC is needed to set up a project, but this is done after all permissions are obtained and huge investments are made, leaving panchayat helpless,” said Negi.

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