Environmental groups oppose power project work under 'police protection'



Chamba (April 15): Construction work on Hul–I Hydro-power Project in Chamba district under police protection has invited criticism from environmental groups. Earlier, the developer of the project had tried to start work at the sight on April 12, but the local community did not allow it, following which police protection was provided to workers by the administration.

On the other hand, villagers, under the banner of Saal Ghati Bachhao Sanghrash Morcha, have been sitting on dharna at the dam site and in front of company office since April 12, demanding scrapping of the project immediately. In a statement issued today, Saal Ghati Bachhao Sanghrash Morcha and Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, said. “People of Sal Ghaati are depending on Hul Nala for drinking water, irrigation, fishery and water mills (gharats). There are many drinking and irrigation water schemes running from this Nala covering more than 10 panchayats and one irrigation plan is under construction. If this project is allowed, it is definite that these all schemes will become redundant. Secondly, the project is going to destroy thick forest developed by the local community.”

On 14th February 2010, five people, including former Zilla Parishad member and veteran environmentalist Ratan Chand, pradhan Jadera Gram Panchayat Mansingh and three other residents were attacked and seriously injured, allegedly by contractors executing the project.

After the firing incident, it was decided by the district administration to hear the grievances of local community, which was conducted on 26 March, 2010 at the site. More than 1,000 people gathered at Jadera and submitted their objections to district magistrate and demanded to scrap the project. Last year, after this incident, the company filled a case in the state high court from where they sought permission to carry out work in police protection and locals were also allowed to demonstrate against the project peacefully. The case is still pending for final decision.

The 3.8 MW Hul Hydroelectric project is being constructed on the Hul Nala, a tributary of Ravi river by Hyderabad-based Hull Hydro Power, a part of Astha Projects (India) Ltd.

“Saal Ghati Bachhao Sanghrash Morcha and Himalaya Nit Abhiyan demand scrapping of the Hull-I Hydro Project in Chamba and Haripur Nala in Kullu and review of state’s Micro-Hydro-project policy from the perspective of impact on local livelihoods, environment, irrigation and drinking water,” said Guman Singh of Himalaya Nit Abhiyan,

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