PUBLIC HEARING WITH OPPOSITION
SDM PROMISED TO ANNOUNCE DATE OF SECOND PUBLIC HEARING
Project Name: Proposed Vishnugad-Pipalkoti Hydroelectric Project (444MW)
River: Alaknanda (Chamoli Distt.) Uttaranchal
Agency: Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC)
18-10-06: USPCB organized an environmental public hearing. Nearly two hundred people were present at the hearing. During the entire process, there were voices of protest against the public hearings. Two penal members have also left, as they were not provided with complete documents like EIA.
The hearing was presided over by SDM Ms. Nidhi Yadav. Promising to declare the date for the second hearing soon, the public hearing was concluded.
The proceeding of public hearing continued for more than two hours. People from different villages raised the issue of EIA and EMP not being provided in Hindi. Nobody knows the impact of this project. THDC officials tried to simplify the problem by saying that now we will have the answer to every question. But the main problem everyone had with the public hearing was with fact that they are never provided with enough relevant documents or other information regarding the impact the dam construction would have on them. In such a case, the answers given by the officials were of little satisfaction. Mr. Paul, the representative of Uttaranchal State Pollution Control Board was set quite. He made no notes of points raised by the people.
Mr. Naval Gairoula raised the issue of faulty data used in EIA. Yuvak Mangal Dal, president, Rajendra Hatwal said, “We are living very happily. This project cannot give us a better life. We will not allow you to destroy our village like this.”
Bachan Singh Panwar from Tpovan-Vishnugad HEP (a project on upstream of Vishnugad-Pipalkoti HEP) said that till today NTPC, the dam proponent, did not inform us about the impacts such a project would have. “Public hearing was a drama for us. It is going on here as well.
Vimalbhai says that World Bank is responsible for huge displacement in India and just because of World Bank’s initial financial support, lakhs of people are facing displacement and other problems created by Sardar Sarover dam on River Narmada. We also understand that the attitude to the mandatory public hearing process is as if it’s a mere formality that has to be performed, no matter how grave are the violations. For instance, there were attempts to carry out public hearing for Lata-Tapovan HEP on August 18, 2006 without imparting detailed information to affected people and although, people strongly opposed it, pollution control board went on to grant its approval and further forwarded the papers to Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
A Letter read out by Mr. Sharat Kumar, which was submitted in the public hearing on behalf of Shri Laxmi Narain Punarvas Jan Kalyan Samiti and Matu Peoples’ Organisation.
Some important excerpts from the letter: -
Villagers have no information that what will be the effect of the project. All the related facts are not known to the villagers like where will muck disposed off? What will be the severe effects on tree, mountains and water? Where will be the effect of explosives? What will happen to grassland? What about of connecting routs? Which type of socio-economy effects will be brought to the different villages?…………
It is known that villages like Helang, Daving, Tapovan, Hyuna, Langsi, Guniyala, Math Bemaru, Syunt, Jhadeta, Bajani, Surinda, Hatt, Gansal, Durgapur and other villages situated between the dam and power house will be effected because of it. But there is no mention of this. That is why the villagers have doubts, fear and anguish. There is no mention about the effect and security especially of women due to the presence of thousand migrant labour in the free life of mountains.
From last two years we are demanding for the information but there is no solution. In this reference, a letter dated 21-10-05 is attached.
…………………we had written many letters, one letter dated 20-7-2006 is attached. How can we support the project without knowing the effect of project? And already we are bearing cracks in our houses and other losses. We should provide all the information, without this public hearing will not entertain complete. We should provide another chance (of public hearing), otherwise tension will be continued, which will not in the favor of anyone.
We are shocked at apathy from concerned officials, terrified at uncertain future, and angered at the continuation of violation of our human rights. But, we are all firm in our resolve that we will defend to last moment our rights on our land, river and natural resources. The same was the backbone of sustained movement of affected people of Tehri dam.
Environment Impact Assessment report and Environment Management Plan, which have not been given to us, shall be made available in Hindi language; so that we can make our comments on the same and put forward at the rescheduled public hearing.
All the above mentioned points shall not only be dwelt on, but they shall also be appended with the letter we intend to submit once we are given the copies of EIA and EMP reports.
Development for all, not only for few