Public Hearing was not performed
Project Name: Proposed Lata-Tapovan Hydroelectric Project (171 MW)
River: Dhouli Ganga (Chmoli Distt.) Uttaranchal
Agency: National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC)
In morning, at the time of Public Hearing except some govt., NTPC and THDC official no one was inside the Pandal. People gathered nearby and opposed the public hearing without providing necessary documents. They wrote a letter and sign that. A part of the letter is reproduced here:-
We have seen, what has been done by NTPC in Tapovan-vishnugad HEP. What ever happened in Tapovan-vishnugad HEP it will be repeated here. We were not provided the Environment Impact Assessment Report and Environment Impact Management. After many difficulties we did get only executive summary. We answered that. Till today NTPC has not given correct information to the affected people (Tapovan-vishnugad HEP). There is nothing at the information center (NTPC). Affected families did not get even the land compensations till today.
Workers of NTPC tried to take people inside the venue of public hearing forcibly. Hearing was started without the affected people then under the leadership of senior social activist and ex headmen of the Lata village (also one of the penal member) this letter given to the representative of USPCB. He refuges to give the sign copy.
A letter was also given to representative of USPCB from Matu People Org. saying at area like this should be protected. For reasonable power needs Solar and Wind power should be use. After taking the letter he started reading it and refused to give signed copy. We insisted to give a sign copy to us, after requesting many time he agreed and did so. We told him that this public hearing is fraudulent and villagers are opposing with sufficient cause, as villagers have not been given access to EIA & EMP.
Even after that when they continued so-called public hearing, villager started Dharna inside pandal and shouted slogans. Leader of CPI (ML) Mr. Atul Sati warned the authorities that we will not allow this drama and he continues slogans till end of the public hearing drama. People capture the dais.
Village women requested S.D.M., representative of USPCB and others to stop the so-called public hearing because it was apprehended that authorities will show this agitation as public hearing and the legal condition of EIA process will be filled by this agitation. That is why villager and Supporter did not allow the continuation of the so-called public hearing. We all were expecting that representative of board will behave like an independent person but he did not.
S.D.M. and Block headmen Mr. Rana had hot discussion with the villagers and supporters. He said why people form outside like Delhi or Tehri come over here and provoke the people.
CPI (ML) Mr. Atul sati told him that why don’t you did so? He narrates how S.D.M. who is sitting on dais is connected with NTPC. He stop the
Senior social activist Mr. Dhan Singh said how come govt. sacrifice schedule tribe on the name of development and this area which already surrounded by six sanctuaries and reserve forests.
Vimalbhai ask them when others can build dam here then why not social activist come over here. We have seen what happened in Tehri and what has done by NTPC in other projects we would not allow them to repeat that same here. On the name Urja Pradesh (Power State), do not destroy the environment and sabotages the peoples’ rights on natural recourses.
After nearly two hours one person from the same dais where the villagers seated, declared public hearing is over. Official left the pandal, only after villagers and supporters leave the pandal.
The DRAMA of so-called public hearing was over.
UPDATE OF FOLLOW-UP
The cancellation of the public hearing was reported in Hindi daily newspaper Amar Ujala. It stated that due to villagers' opposition public hearing was canceled. Very next day Mr. Paul gave a statement that public Hearing was conducted.Very next day Mr.Paul gave a statement that public Hearing was conducted. After that people wrote a letter to opposed the public hearing.
Matu People’s Organisation on 30th August wrote a letter to MoEF and USPCB
Saying that public hearing was totally false, untrue and:-
- it is a complete violation of the notification of Ministry of Forest and Environment dated 10th January 1994.
- it is Violation of Constitutional rights of the people.
In this situation we demand that the Public hearing held on 18th August 2006 on proposed Lata-Tapovan HEP should not be accepted.
We would like to mention here that Lata villagers are schedule tribe. When villages has disowned project even then it is USPCB's obligation to hold next public hearing to provide all the true information to the villagers.
Public hearing can be conducted only after following is done:
1. Environment Impact Assessment Report, Environment Management Plan and all other documents in complete, should be provided in Hindi at village level.
2. A process should start for affected villagers to explain about the documents in simple Hindi.
3. Next Public Hearing should be hold after minimum a month when this whole process is complete.