By: Ravinder Vasudeva
Bilaspur: Call it an irony or the immaturity of our democracy that on the one hand political parties in Himachal Pradesh are chalking out modalities to woo voters in the name of development, on the other hand people who suffered because of these developmental projects like hydro-power projects, SEZs and other industries are not finding even a single party which can assure them justice.
The ‘vote-bank politics’ and ‘industry-friendly nature’ of the successive state governments have not left good impression on these people, so much so that they have invited leaders of the all political parties for an open debate now.
Such was the ambiance at the first day of the two-day ‘Save Himalya’ workshop being organized by the Himalya Niti Abhiyan Samiti at Bilaspur where hundreds of people from different areas of the state are deliberating hard in preparing a strategy to protect their rights over the land or other natural sources being ruined because of hydropower projects, cement plants and other industries.
“We are confused which party to believe. It appears each party is alike. Take the issue of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in which thousands of acres of agricultural land is to be utilized for other economic activities. In Noida, BSP is presenting SEZs as a developmental indicator but in other parts of the country they are opposing SEZs, terming them as anti-agricultural. In Singoor, West Bengal, CPM supported the creation of a SEZ, but in other parts of the country they have opposed the same policy. Similar is the plight of other parties including BJP and Congress,” said, Narinder Parmar from Gagret, chief of the Matribhoomi Sangharsh Samiti, which is opposing the establishment of SEZ in Gagret of district Una.
Another local from Kullu district, Pushpal Singh Thakur, who claims to be a victim of the proposed Ski Village in Manali, lamented, “It is still beyond our perception why the various governments take establishment of industries, cement plants and hydro power projects as the only indicators of development, even knowing the fact that people of the areas, in which these projects are being set up, are not accepting them and are opposing them with firm determination.”
“What development the government is talking about? Is it only about setting up of big projects without any proper rehabilitation and environment policy? Political parties are playing in the hands of big industrial houses and are making mockery of the rights of the people. These parties remember the aam aadmi only in the elections and after that leave him in the lurch, paying no attention to his demand,” said Mukhiya Singh from Nalagarh of Solan district.
The participants in the workshop discussed various long-pending issues of people suffering from different projects and prepared a questionnaire of issues which will be put before the leaders of various political parties.