Panchayats in Kinnuar district again boycott PRI polls



Shimla, Nov 19: Tribals in Kinnaur district again boycotted the PRI elections against Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Project, which will keep these panchyats unrepresented this year too.

These panchyats organized a protest rally out side 1,000 MW Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Project on Saturday. Villagers affected by this hydropower project were demanding restoration of their traditional water and forest rights. Villagers also alleged that after coming up this project has affected their livelihood by various means and has also affected the environment, as state government has allowed the hydropower company to exploit the resources. “This time again we have decided the panchayats would go unrepresented,” Karcham Wangtoo Sangharsh Samiti president Vinay Negi said on Sunday, adding that they held a protest in which 2000 people participated.

Tribal were protesting to press the demand that both the government and project authorities redress the grievances of the villages located in the vicinity of the project. The villagers of Urni, Yula, Chagaon and Miru in Nichar subdivision have boycotted the three-phase panchayati raj elections for 3,195 panchayats in the state held from Dec 28, 2010 to Jan 1, 2011. The state election commission has again notified the poll schedule — Nov 16 as date of filing nominations and Nov 30 polling date. Interestingly, nobody has turned up to file nomination papers for any post of the four panchayats and two panchayat samitis, which have 3,326 voters.

Kinnaur Deputy Commissioner Sunil Chaudhary said that no nomination was filed for the 22 wards in the four panchayats. Chairman of the state election commission Dev Swaroop said the commission would have to notify the polls again in these panchayats after certain period. Head of Him Lok Jagriti Manch, a people’s movement in the district, R.S. Negi said the no-objection certificate (NoC) was not taken from nine panchayats by project authorities before starting its execution. “The NoC was taken from three panchayats only out of the 12 affected ones. Four villages were badly affected. Large number of houses were damaged due to blasting and the crops – horticultural and agricultural – were damaged due to pollution,” he said. Brahmi Devi of Urni village said the government has completed the survey of the villages but no compensation has been adequately paid. “Some monetary relief was given for the damage to our houses, but no compensation was paid for the loss to the crops,” she said. She also said, “Traditional water sources have dried up due to massive construction”. She added that the villagers would not participate in the elections till the authorities “settle our issue”.

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