Small hydel projects a big issue

20

HimVani

There is a long history of protests and violence at mega project sites in the country and lately in Himachal Pradesh as well, owing to obvious reasons like displacement, compensation, rights of indigenous people and overall ecological imbalance. But now localised resistance against small hydro-power projects too is snowballing into a major conflict in Himachal Pradesh. Though low-level resistance against many small hydro projects in Himachal had been going on for the last few years, last week’s brutal attack on members of Saalghati Sangharsh Morcha in Chamba, whereby one person died, has proved a trigger for statewide protest against such projects.

Of the 21,000 MW total hydro-power potential in the state, around 750 MW is catagorised fit for small hydro produce having a capacity of less than 5 MW each, and not requiring dams and reservoirs. Though the large projects affect a large geographic area, resistance against such projects is limited to project sites, but in case of small projects, since they are in greater numbers and scattered across almost every second stream in the state, the village-level struggle for local rights has attained a larger dimension.

The Hull Nala projects are typical examples of commercialisation and exploitation of Himalayan streams in the last two decades, disturbing the unique relationship between the land, forests and people who inhabit the areas. The basic conflict point is that power created by these small-scale projects is not kept for nearby villages, but is sold by the independent producers to the state or is supplied to purchasers outside the state. To add to the problem, the state government has been offering private power producers incentives. Last year, 56 small hydel projects, with a cumulative capacity of 155 MW, were entrusted to private producers. Villagers have been arguing that the mall streams on which these small-scale projects are being built sustain their isolated communities as well as the fragile macro ecosystems.

As Himachal has 100% electrification of villagers, the local communities are more enraged that over involvement of private entrepreneurs from outside the state ‘plundering’ their natural wealth without any concern. “Local populations do not stand to gain much from the massive amounts of money

being spent on the small hydro plants. Barring a few small hamlets, nearly all of Himachal is already electrified, mostly through large state-government projects. The new projects will be catering to the growing power requirements of other North Indian states,” says Manasi Ashar, an activist associated with Saalghati Sangharsh Morcha. It is also surprising that from time to time the government has tried to amend rules for allotment of such projects to encourage local people, especially youth, to take up such projects, but in the last two decades there are not even isolated cases of genuine Himachalis having taken the initiative, the reasons for which are manifold.

Interestingly, subsidies to set up such small projects have played a major role in attracting small players into these projects. While the ministry of non-conventional energy is subsidising up to 40 percent of the costs of these projects, now the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism is also encouraging government to clear more projects to earn carbon credits.

The protests here arise from three basic local aspects – fishing, traditional watermills and the area’s forests. The diversion of the river water will mean a loss of access to the Hull Nala for fishing, besides rendering the 65 traditional watermills on the streams useless, which are otherwise an important part of the local economy and culture. Forest department officials have estimated that 243 trees would need to be cut down in order to clear the way for Hull I project, while locals maintain that almost 2,000 trees will have to be sacrificed. Even the review committee constituted to prove villagers’ claims admitted that digging and dumping will lead to more destruction and landslides in the area. Similarly, residents of 24 villages that make up the Saal Valley’s Baraur panchayat, known for vegetable production, fear that their irrigation channels will run dry once water is diverted to the power project.

Government officials appear sensitive towards the demands raised by villagers concerning their ecosystem and livelihood, but always end up defending a greater cause of national development. “From January 2010 onwards there is a continuous struggle by the people demanding cancellation of these two projects. The Saal Ghati Sangarsh Samiti comprises 15 panchayats in which seven hydel projects are coming up, which gives an idea of the magnitude of the problem. Today people across the state are against these projects as they will not only snatch away their right over water, but will also destroy the ecology of the area,” claimed Tikender Singh Panwar, member, state secretariat, CPIM.

Clearance to these small hydel projects has also raised doubts about the importance given to local self-governance in the state. In this particular case, while panchayat representatives were consulted regarding the project, they were not part of the review committee, while the final decision rests with the state government. The work on Hull I was initiated despite the continual refusal by the gram sabhas (village assemblies) of the panchayats of Jadera, Silla Gharat and Baraur to give a no-objection certificate to the project.

“Despite repeated protests and agitations of the Sangharsh Morcha against the projects since the last five years on the grounds that the projects would destroy the Hull Nala, which supports irrigation, water mill, fisheries related needs of the region and drinking water needs of Chamba town, both the BJP and the Congress governments turned a deaf ear to the demands of the people,” said Rattan Chand, a Zila Parishad member from the area who was among those who were injured due to the alleged firing.

That the protest actions of the last few days are not isolated cases is proved by the fact that several peoples’ organisations have come together to form a joint action and solidarity committee that will continue to lend active support to the demands and struggle of the ‘Saal Ghaati Bachao Sangharsh Morcha’. Some of these organisations include Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, Seva Himalaya, CITU, AITUC, Sankalp, Vyapar Mandal, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha, Himalaya Main Aarthik, Samajik Samanta ke liye Jan Abhiyan and Lok Vigyan Kendra.

“It is becoming a challenge to strike the right balance between local livelihoods,
environmental sustainability and development pressures due to coming of various industrial, mining, hydel and infrastructural development projects. The local interests are being trumped by influential commercial interest. This unequal power relation where despite farmers, both small and marginal, being in majority, their interests were totally ignored due to the fact that they are not organized. This is not an administrative matter, but a political question. Unfortunately, the government is siding with private commercial interests,” said Kuldip Singh Tanwar, state president of Himachal Kisan Sabha.

Whatever the outcome of the ongoing conflict arising out of setting up of these projects, one thing is understood by all and sundry that the state has an exceedingly fragile Himalyan ecosystem, so if all the stakeholders do not tread with caution, nothing much may be left to fight over. The unpredictable weather over the last two decades is already giving indications in that direction, and soon there may not be any Hurla stream left to harness its power potential.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Sorry to say but this is a lifafa hitjob. Rather than using data and facts, this article is sort of appealing to the emotions of the reader and fear mongering. Why do I say this? The modus operandi is somewhat similar to what happened in Narmada Bachao Andolan. A few NGOs will gather some people and incite them, some leftie fanatic hoodlums and their organisations like CITU, AITUC will provide support. End result – project will be delayed. What I am curious about is the omission of the name of the NGOs behind this sham protest in this article. Jabre keh gai – Chor ki daadi mein tinka! This whole thing is very familiar to me, since I've studied Medha Patkar and her so called andolan. Even the words and hyperbole surrounding it are eeriely similar. I'll bet anyone that an NGO from outside the state, with outsiders running it and with leftist connections is behind this whole drama. The words and the logic (or the lack of it) are dead give aways, NGO ka toh kuchh nahin jayega, haraam ka paisa aur woh bhi doosre ka ho toh udana aasaan hai par kamaana mushkil. End result will be my fellow Himachalis will be the ones on the receiving end. For NGOs it is heads i win and tails you lose and they will move to another state or create 'grievances' somewhere else. The most critical information missing is – name of the NGO or NGOs and their source of funding????

  2. Dear friend, nowhere have we tried to hide any names from the article. The agitation is being spearheaded by Saal Ghaati Bachao Sangharsh Morcha (not an NGO), and supported mainly by Himalaya Niti Abhiyan and few others. CITU, AITUC and other politically affiliated units are in no way involved in it. You have rightly pointed out that the 'modus operandi’ is somewhat similar to what happened in Narmada Bachao Andolan', because the basic issue remains the same, that is rights of local people. You may agree that we are not living in China where millions are displaced without giving them an option in the name of nation building, therefore resistance is natural. You find the language hyperbolic, but missed to see the irony. With due respect to your understanding of what the likes of Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy are doing, I humbly claim some understanding of their work and find at least some substance in it – not because of any Marxist leaning, but because I have seen my own backyard being destroyed by unmindful 'development'. And I assure you there is also truth in what Gail Omvedt
    had to say against Arundhati Roy-style of protest.
    You may agree that human wellness can hardly be expressed in mathematical figures and therefore there will never be any absolute answer to the problem. Therefore, even as we admit there may be some amount of truth in what you say, let us also be fair to the other side, not denounce them outrightly as there may be at least some who are working honestly so that others may get their due. And I can assure you that this forum has no such biases against anybody.

    • As far we know the name Tikender Panwar is affiliated to the lefties and emerges asmore prominently in every strike/protest in the state.

  3. After reading the comments above, it appears there is a serious mis-match between rural and urban India. While urban India seeks right over everything in this country, even concerns of local population regarding resources and livelihoods are of no concern to people from the plains.

    Why should Himachal hills be plundered just in case the cities of urban India remain lit without any concern for Himachal people. Just because we have had leaders who sold themselves to the Corporations does not mean the locals will keep quite to this injustice!!

  4. nirvan ji, namaskar. I have been researching a little bit since i wrote my earlier comment. What i feared has come true – NGO from outside the state with outsiders running it and having not only leftist connections but anti Indian connections too. It is alarming how we have allowed our own people to fall into this trap. At the outset, I will say the grievances of my local brothers and sisters may very well be true but it is being hijacked by NGOs with dubious connections. Here is what I found: There is a mention in the article of Manasi Ashar, an activist associated with Saalghati Sangharsh Morcha. Who is she? Let me answer it – Manshi Asher(this is the correct spelling) is an NGO employee. Name of the NGO is AID India. Follow the link to read more about her (http://aidindia.org/main/content/view/740/139/). Deliberate or not, omission of this fact and linking her to Saalghati Sangharsh Morcha is very misleading. Why so much care is being taken to hide the name of this so called NGO – AID India?To see AID India's work, pls visit, http://bit.ly/bNCFCt and http://bit.ly/9nCWC7 (Copy paste the 2 urls) And it is no coincidence that Marxist or leftist thugs like CITU and AITUC are supporting it. Nirvan ji, pls read the matter and then put your questions keeping one thing in mind – i am not accusing you (if you are the author) of anything infact I agree with you about, as you put it, unmindful development but shady characters and NGOs should be called for their skullduggery.

    Jwala Mata ki jai

    • Dear all,

      First of all, thanks to Mr. Balram for his quick little web research. Im sure after going through the AID website it becomes amply clear what the leanings of the organisation are (Please dont miss Gandhi's profile on the AID logo – May be the marxists will not really like that ;)). In this entire debate that has ensued though, there are four points I would like to make:

      First, if time spent on web research on individual activists' background was spent instead on some solid field research then Mr Balram, if sensitive to the world around him, would find himself sounding, if not like a 'marxist' – but atleast close to it. It is really time we start examining the situation in the grassroots, minus our own middle class baggage, from the point of view of those for whom each day is a struggle in this great shining India

      Second, if calling a spade a spade, if challenging corporate greed and plunder at the cost of 70% of the population, is 'Marxism', then i wouldnt mind being called a marxist, though i have never identified myself as one. We are living in a state that calls itself democratic and i am exercising my rights as a responsible citizen – more of us should be doing that – not just for our own selves but for the society around us for which we are accountable – with whatever political ideology that we stand for.

      Thirdly, I deeply regret, for my marxist friends atleast, that ' Marxism' is being spoken of as an abusive word – as though it is a crime to strive for principles like 'equality' . Is mr. Balram suggesting that we accept the cowboy raj and state repression that is happening across India today? Goondagardi chalti hai par marx-vaadi hona jurm hai? What kind of a society are we striving for?

      And last but not the least… This typical and convenient 'outsider vs insider' argument. lets not fall for it. I have only one question for those who throw the 'outsider' argument at me – Agar hum bahar wale hain to kya Jaypee, Ambani, Adani, Ford, Dilli aur hyderabad ki hydro companiyon ke crorepati malik – kya ye andarwale hain?kaunse himachali logon ke ristedaar hain ye? Who are they? Insiders? Probably – cos they treat the hill state like their own – and grab whatever they can…. What they give back is not really our concern no?

  5. Dear Balram ji

    If just two comments from Nirvan and Nityn were enough for you to acknowledge that “…. the grievances of my local brothers and sisters may very well be true……”, imagine what transformation would happen if you were to visit some of the sites where these small hydro are being constructed. See what has happened to the local ecology and peoples’ livelihoods – I would suggest a visit to Trella in Tissa, Chamba or Palampur in Kangra. Your heart would cry out if you were to see the forest that needs to be axed so that the Hul project could be constructed. There would be many more that I may not have heard of. If a visit is not possible, then just check out the front page of the Himachal Plus section of the Tribune of Wednesday, 24th February, 2010. All that the government is doing by squeezing all the small rivers is to centralise the revenues at the cost of local livelihoods and ecology. These would then be used to run the government machinery – read pay for the salaries of government employees. Do you know what is the gap in the income of an average farmer and an average government employee? And mind you, the electricity that would ultimately be produced by plundering local resources would not go to light any poor man’s house in a backward state, it is primarily intended for consumption in the urban centres, air-conditioners (both domestic and commerical), lighting up the malls and industries that feed conspicuous consumption habits. I recently read that the human consumption crossed the threshold of sustainability in the year 1986. How long are we to continue living happily without questioning the unsustainable lifestyles and policies that create discontent, disposession and strife?

    As far as the Sal Ghati Movement being run by NGO activists from outside the state is concerned, I would suggest that you go and meet Rattan Chand of Jadera, Chamba who is currently recuperating at the Tanda medical college and was the prime target of the attack in Hul valley. He is the one who is leading the movement against the Hul project and has been a relentless campaigner fighting for the interests of the local Gujjar-Gaddi population, wildlife and ecology. Any resident of Chamba town would confirm to you that this is a totally homegrown movement, absolutely out of local concerns with no outsider dictating terms. That Rattan Chand was once associated with CPI (and consequently has sympathisers therein) should not be held against the local movement and its causative factors. CITU and AITUC being in control of things in Sal Ghati is a totally unconfirmed and ad-hoc statement. Ask the people from CITU or AITUC themselves. Also, there were many other organisations named in the article.

    As far as Manshi Asher is concerned, she is associated with the Sal Ghati Sangharsh Morcha but not running it (and far from it). She is an activist who is working with many peoples’ movements on issues of local interest and is providing help on legal matters and documentation. The strategy building is all a local effort. She is filling a critical void that exists due to only a handfull of Himachalis fighting for the cause of environment and local interests in situations where poor and under-informed villagers being pitted against the commercial forces and the instruments of the state (take this as an invitation). She is not an employee of AID – only on a fellowship from AID supports her to continue her work – I suppose the difference between the two is clear.

    AID is an organisation of NRIs which is non-partisan, apolitical (vis-a-vis party politics) and secular and the acronym stands for Association for India’s Development and NOT Anti India Development. To call it an anti national organisation is putting a question mark on the intentions of the people who are contributing their earnings for the development of their nation. Their website http://www.aidindia.org would give you more information about the projects and people they support. AID is far from being a marxist organisation. If there are still some doubts, then I shall ask some people from AID to clarify their position to this forum.

    Regarding the skulduggery that NGOs have been alleged to be involved in, I would request you to be specific and talk about issues and instances where you fear this has happened. And not indulge in avoidable mudslinging. I acknowledge that there are black sheep here and there but that does not mean that all NGOs belong to the same hue. I also work for a small NGO (Lok Vigyan Kendra) and the team is trying to do some constructive work on sustaining the health of our forests and local livelihoods dependent upon them. We are proud of the work, howsoever small, that we are doing. You are welcome to come and see it sometime for yourself. Please rest assured that little money that goes to the NGOs is haram ka (we often take small donations from the general public) and not all of it is udao-ed indiscriminately. The haram ka money ends up in Swiss bank accounts, dubious land transactions, cash-at-residence and NGOs promoted by some corporate entities to do their whitewashing job.

    I would invite all skeptics for a constructive and open discussion at a convenient place. We have to avoid dissent that is just for the sake of having dissent. If there is more to it then I would be willing to learn.

    Rahul

  6. Hi Rahul, how did you guess Nityin ji and Nirvan ji’s comments prompted my response? Anyways, read Himachal plus and Shri Sood’s article. There is no denying there are many things going wrong while construction of dams but we have to look at ground realities. Rather than opposing violations, these folks are opposing dams. How would one propose govt earn money for yearly expenditure and pay its employees especially in Himachal’s case where govt service sector is huge? Conspicuous consumption and material decadence is here to stay till we change course or are you suggesting we move to caves, give up our cars and bikes and take up begging instead of producing and manufacturing. Even growing crops takes waterm should we stop it too? While you are talking about unsustainable lifestyles, one also has to think about providing drinking water to the thirsty and food to the hungry. Can we overlook this problem? And what if global warming goes on expected lines, monsoons fail and more droughts hit our country, then we need back up. Rather than protesting every dam that is being built and hitting it with damage to ecology, loss of forest etc ready made blurbs, an alternative and a viable solution has to be given. Even driving a car and using a computer is damaging environment, will one stop using it? What you say has a grain of truth in it but look at it from another angle also. We have to increase the catchment areas, increase ground water table, recycle sewage water, build dams/check dams for irrigation, drinking and power generation purposes and invest in rainwater harvesting. Status quo or inaction on these matters will spell doom for our state and our country.

    This protest, even if genuine, has taken political overtones. Some people or organizations might be neutral and apolitical but presence of comrade hoodlums and their unions has changed the equation. Comrade Ratan Chand might be Himachali but one will never ask outsiders to come in and interfere in our domestic matters esp NGOs like AID. One can be excused for not knowing the background of such a shady NGO but after the information is available, there can be no reason to continue with them. It will be akin to stomping our foot on an axe. Also, from the news reports on this ‘attack’, one report said it was a clash. Whom to believe, violence amongst family is a no no but if a family member is inviting outsiders for his personal and parties political gain, on the backs of genuine local grievances, he should be taught a lesson he will never forget.

    Rahul, people’s movement is a lame moniker and one can know it easily if one has studied communist literature. These poseur hoodlums position themselves as peoples committee with no people behind them or in the committee, only comrades allowed. Getting my point. Day or two earlier, People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA) president Lalmohan Tudu died a dogs death, why? This naxalite comrade had taken part in the Silda EFR camp massacre where 24 cops were massacred in cold blood. Does Himachal need this kind of vermin hiding behind peoples committees and peoples movements? Ms Asher is most welcome to stay in Himachal as a guest and my apologies to her if she feels offended. But the moment you step into the local issues with your own agendas, safeties are off. I am not at all clear about fellowship and employee distinction that you are trying to make – one of the criterias to select fellows is that he/she echoes the purpose of the NGO, sort of clique like, isn’t it?

    May I ask whether you are saying this, AID is an organisation of NRIs which is non-partisan, apolitical (vis-a-vis party politics) and secular, after reading the links in my second post? Questioning a NGO and its
    workings puts a question mark on the donors, how? What if AID India has hidden its true face and donors are unaware of the true intentions of these slimebags? On their website, under campaigns, following are listed:
    a)Narmada – opposition to dam, nothing constructive only no no no no.
    b)RTI – Kejriwal, Patkar how many more will claim credit for the RTI act. Another thing, they demand right to info but there is no info from their side about their own sources of fundings.
    c)Bhopal- Apart from yearly breast beatings and anniversaries, claim to fame is asking universities to not have DOW as a sponsor.
    d)Free Binayak Sen – Why? Binayak Sen was caught passing notes to and from Naxalites and jailed.
    e)Chattisgarh Human rights – read Chattisgarh Naxalite rights. Tribals gave a fitting response with shoes, tomatoes and eggs.
    f)GM Brinjal-Every tom, dick and harry is opposing it, whats new and special about this protest?

    Finally, you said “I acknowledge that there are black sheep here and there but that does not mean that all NGOs belong to the same hue.” Pls point me to the post where I’ve said all NGOs are the same and what has the NGO cottage industry done to stem and neuter the black sheep. Nothing. Everybody is profiting from the other and keeps his eyes closed. Have you or LVK asked AID India what is their source of funding before joining forces? I don’t think so. There are NGOs who are in awe of these superstar NGOs and would question the common man who has the temerity to ask NGOs like AID where they get the funds from? Have some self respect rather than carrying waters for one whom you don’t know in detail. After all this, you are saying, not all NGOs are of the same hue, i know that but gehun ke saath ghun bhi pisti hai, sad but true. I do have my reasoned reservations against NGO’s since they do not produce a single product and it is a fact. Taking money from one set of people and use it for some constructive work for other set is similar to a beggar who begs to feed his and his families stomach, isn’t that what you are doing? Why should we put NGOs on a mantle, praise you to high heavens and be in awe – when the reality is NGO contribution in production is zero while performing duties of a middle man – not the beggar? Earn your own money to do good for others, not for the limelight but genuine concern of the people, then come and talk to me till then NGOs are nothing but glorified and over hyped beggars. Pls don’t take what i’ve written personally since i am talking about NGO industry not you or your NGO unless specifically mentioned. Also, i do acknowledge there are organizations which do tremendous work without a care for publicity stunts and in near anonymity and this above mentioned perception in my mind of a NGO has been etched over time not overnight, i’ll be happy to hear your views.

  7. Hello Ms. Asher. Let us clear a misconception in the beginning. Having a picture of Gandhi on the AID website amounts to zilch in my eyes, no offence intended. One has to look at the actions, not empty words, photos and haughty slogans. From my earlier comment, do check the second twitter url and the photo of a man carrying a banner which says "allah destroy the terrorist state of India." How does that sit with AIDs Gandhi's photo?

    First, my question still remains unanswered – Deliberate or not, omission of this fact and linking her[Manshi] to Saalghati Sangharsh Morcha is very misleading. Why so much care is being taken to hide the name of this so called NGO – AID India? How does this blatant omission and pulling wool over people's eyes sit with Gandhi's photo?

    Second, now that you are here, let me ask you – are you an Indian, if yes, from where? Where does AID get the money or the funds from? Railing against development is your job but it is hypocrisy to pursue this disruptive ideology against development in Himachal when AID and YOU are getting funds/salary from the industrialized abd fully developed world (esp from somewhat hostile countries) without giving alternative solutions. How does this double standard behaviour sit with Gandhi's photo?

    Third, challenging corporate greed and plunder at the cost of 70% of the population, is ‘Marxism’, then i wouldn't mind being called a marxist – and transform Himachal into communist Waste Bengal having next to nothing industries, inequalities galore, numerous bandhs and offer naxalite terrorism as icing on the cake thus causing irreparable harm to Himachalis. Hamare mathe pe likha hai kya – aa bail mujhe maar and do you think, hum haath pe haath dhar ke baithe rahenge? Also, you are saying marxism is 'cool' because it strives for the utopian 'equality' but overlook at how it is done – sanction for violent overthrow of existing structures. Thanks for such thoughts but how does this, approval of marxism and violence it brings, sit with Gandhi's photo?

    Fourth, JP, Ambani etc are non Himachalis but their motives are clear – business. It is their job to maximize profit and our job is to safeguard our interrest. Aap kahan se aa gaye beech mein? A NGO, with proven anti Indian views and actions, is concerned with well being of Indian citizens – do you see the dichotomy in this theory? Your concern is duly noted since it is your job on the line but don't raise false flags. Grievance mongering is an easy task which we can do ourselves.

    Ms. Asher, sticking Gandhi's photo on the website has little value when, as proven, the ideals of Gandhi are being openly shredded. Undoubtedly, you can fool some of the people for some of the time. Looking forward to your response esp to my first question.

    cheers/

    Let me put forth a news article i recently read on Chattisgarh. Background – This state has been fighting communist terrorism (or naxalism for romantic reasons) for some time. Two shining beacons of 'activism and NGOs as a career option,' Medha Patkar and Sandeep Pandey along with self anointed Gandhian(too many Gandhi photos and Gandhians coming up lately, what gives?) Himanshu Kumar, appointed themselves as spokesperson of the local Chattisgarhi tribals. What was their demand? Stop government action against Naxal terrorists who were terrorizing tribals. Now which sane person, especially spokesmen for tribals, will say this? Hearing this, innocent local tribals, who have been taken for a ride by these jokers, recently pelted them with rotten tomatoes and eggs. Cannot fault the tribals for this.
    http://bit.ly/7e3qWS
    BHOPAL: Tribals angry with activists fighting for human rights of Naxals while ignoring poor ‘adivasis’ threw rotten eggs and tomatoes at Magsaysay award winner Medha Patkar and Sandeep Pandey as they reached Dantewada town in Chhattisgarh on Wednesday.

    Shouting slogans like "Wapas jao, wapas jao (go back)", the tribals alleged that NGOs "support Naxals under the pretext of human rights."

    P.S. If one reads the second link in my earlier comment, the shenanigans of Sandeep Pandey of rotten tomato, chapal and egg fame can be a good source of entertainment if you are not a boiling-blood type like me. He was funded by AID (yes, same one for which Ms Asher works) for a 'peace' march to talibanstan aka pakeestan, he believes Jammu and Kashmir is not part of India and AID calls Taliban supporter, Kaleem Khawaja, as a "like minded folk." This info is all in public domain and readers can make up their own mind about AID.

  8. The above repartee speaks for itself – as the global gets wider, the local gets narrower and more parochial. But Thank god for the Manshis and Rahuls of this world, who soldier on in all honesty and with admirable commitment and focus, despite the rabble rousing rantings of deluded and mis-inspired commentators who remain confused by non-issues, falling back to the inevitable (and by now passe and oh-so-boring)  pontifications on marx and morals, insiders and outsiders. Exposure to the ground realities that exist in environments under accelerated degradation would certainly be of value for them. It would certainly enlighten, if not humble them. Jingoism apart.

  9. Uma, have you ever considered one of Eliot's memorable quotes – It is better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. After reading your huffing and puffing joke of a comment, i can safely say, your anger and emotion is outpacing your meagre intelligence.

  10. Dear Balram (and everybody else), 

    There is no point entering into a debate regarding the antecedents and motives of people voicing their concerns regarding degradation of the environment and ecosystems in remote, and so far untouched, fastnesses of HP. It will be clear to any one who visits the affected areas, that the damage to the local ecosystem is collossal and irreversible. It is not just the trees and the forests – water sources dry up, local irrigation channels (kuhls) get buried under debris (or dry up), flora and fauna (biodiversity) takes a beating and, worst of all, the stream on which the project is located may not sustain the project if Climate Change proceeds at the same pace as it has till now. While large projects have, and provide for, funds to offset the damage caused to the environment, even if partially, small projects neither are required to, nor have the funds to, offset or mitigate the damage they cause. It would help if local people are taken into confidence before sanctioning such projects. locals might be more amenable to a project if they are assured that their livelihoods will not be affected and might even be supported by the project proponents. People are not against power projects per se but are definitely upset ( and have every right to be upset) if their resource base is eroded in the name of development. As suggested by somebody above, Balram, I suggest you visit the Hull Valley, or Palampur, or Holi, or Kinnaur and see for yourself the irreversible damage caused by the projects, large and small.

    • Pankaj ji, just saw your comment today hence a late reply. Pls read the link below –

      BBC – India blacklists 800 NGOs (for colluding with anti Indian terrorists)
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3001458.stm

      What are the chances that our govt. checked the antecedents, motives and funding of these NGOs and blacklisted them? If an environmentalist commits a murder, should he/she be let off because he/she is "voicing their concerns regarding degradation of the environment and ecosystems in remote, and so far untouched, fastnesses of HP?"

      • So – this issue is really about some hangup some people have against NGOs. And I thought all the time that it was really about the environment. I am out of here folks. Nice knowing you all.

    • I absolutely agree with what you say Mr Pankaj … rather than treating the issue of environment as food for thought and condemning the attitude of the Government which is behaving like a bania who is only concerned about selling his merchandise irrespective of any other consideration..we seem to be playing the blame game which is quite unproductive. I support the views expressed by you on 09.03.10

  11. So – this issue is really about some hangup some people have against NGOs. And I thought all the time that it was really about the environment. I am out of here folks. Nice knowing you all.

    • Pankaj, with all due respect, i'll give you the room to wiggle out but not so fast 🙂 First, answer the question i've asked, that is if you can and second, please point us to the alternative solutions for the people keeping in mind the environment that you so care about.

  12. Dear Balram,

    No – I am not trying to 'wriggle out' – as you so delightfully put it. I only got fed up with the direction the discussion was taking. To answer your question – If I was sure the concerned NGO had an ulterior motive for taking up any issue, I would definitely not support it. But I would have to be absolutely sure first! Don't give the dog a bad name and shoot it!

    Regarding the alternatives – I will write in greater detail tomorrow – good night for now….

    Pankaj

    • Pankaj, reading comprehension invariably falls on the internet. What you have written is your opinion. Nothing wrong in it but more importantly, not answered the questions i asked. Eager to hear to the point answers and the alternatives, as you promise, in great detail.

      regards

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