Shimla (Dec 15): Despite protest against forced aquisition of land, Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) and revenue administration today notified Section 9 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894, for approximately 680 bighas (about 57 hectares) of land of Panaar Village for the Renuka Dam Project. In a letter to the Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court sent today, activists appealed for a stay on land acquisition for the project, considering the uncertainty surrounding the project.
The owners of these lands (more than 60 families) today filed their objections with the Land Acqusition Officer. Members of the Renuka Bandh Sangharsh Samiti also expressed their objections on the grounds that “the tree counting by HPPCL was completely false and the number of trees have been grossly under-estimated and that the land was actually being bought by HPPCL through property dealers and contractors and that the land owners were the biggest losers in this case”. Members of the Renuka Bandh Sangharsh Samiti also expressed their objections on the grounds that the precious forested lands were being acquired for peanuts. “The local people were being taken for a ride by statements of assurance from the government that the dam would not come up against their wishes on one hand, and the continued process of acquisition on the other,” said Yogindra Kapila of Renuka Bandh Sangharsh Samiti.
The letter written to the Chief Justice forther states: “The project proponents do not have a forest clearance for the private forest land which they are acquiring. As per the Supreme Court order dated 8th May, 2009 in the TN Godavraman case, the shamlaat or private forests should attract the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act 1980″. Further, the letter also raised that forest clearance for 775 hectares for the whole project has been declined by the MoEF vide a letter dated 31st August 2010 and yet the Land Acquisition process is being continued, thus making a mockery of the Ministry of Environment decision and the principles of the Forest Conservation Act 1980. ” It is indeed shocking that the entire process of the Forest Clearance has been reduced to a mere formality and that the instrument of Land Acquisition Act 1894 is being used for forced acquisition despite uncertainties surrounding the project. If the project fails to get necessary clearances, money spent on the acquisition will be a waste of public resources” states the letter.