Tribune News Service
Shimla, August 26
The echo of “No more hydel projects in Kinnaur” is reverberating in the hills of Kinnaur with villagers from across the tribal district converging at Reckong Peo to oppose indiscriminate digging of the fragile hills for power generation.
Villagers from across Kinnaur district on Thursday gathered at the district headquarter of Reckong Peo to send a strong message to the government authorities and power companies that people will not allow any more power projects.
Himachal in the past months has witnessed scary landslides in which many persons were killed.
Various environmentalists and NGO’s, including Him Lok Jagriti Manch, District Forest Rights Sangharsh Samiti and Kinnaur and Jangi Thopan Powari Affected Sangharsh Samiti extended support to the locals in their fight to protect their ecology.
Holding banners and placards of “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.
The tribal district of Kinnaur has some of the biggest hydel projects, including the 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 Satluj river.
Shanta Kumar Negi, president of the Hungrung Sangharsh Samiti, said people of Kinnaur had joined together as they wanted vikas and not vinaash (development not destruction). They said now a strong message will go to the power companies that they will face opposition from every individual as slogans of “Ek Kinnaur- Ex Awaaz.”
“The recent disasters at Badseri and Nigulsari are warning signals against destabilisng the hills by setting up more hydel-project,” says RS Negi, retired IAS and president of the Himlok Jagriti Manch.
He says the government must not allow more projects in Kinnaur as the locals are vehemently opposed to it. He said hydel-power has also become economically unviable as generation cost is very high but power rates are low.
“Though it is mandatory to obtain a NOC from the Gram Sabha to set up a project but this is sought right at the end when all formalities and permissions have been obtained and huge investment made, leaving the Panchayat helpless,” explains RS Negi. This he said will have to change as now the people of Kinanur will not remain spectators to their ecology being ruined in the name of hydro-power generation.
The villagers also aired their grouse at transfer of tribal land to non-tribal from outside, violation of their rights under the Forest Rights Act and grant of nautor land to them as per law.
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