Sunday, 18 December 2011

{DUU-28} From Alaknandaganga Valley 05-02-07

Again an unjust public hearing

Project Name: Proposed Kotli-Bhel Part-1 ‘B’ Hydroelectric Project (280 MW)
River: Bhilangana (Tehri and Pouri District) Uttarakhand
Agency: National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC)
On 28th morning at 11 O’clock hundreds of villagers enter in the pandal where Environmental Public Hearing of proposed Kotli-Bhel Phase 1 “A” was organized. They were shouting slogans ‘If no information-No dam’, ‘without information-cancel public hearing’ etc. officials of project proponent NHPC and police try to stop people forcibly but could not.
They occupy the dais of public hearing. Pradhan of village Maletha read out a long letter written on behalf of 27 villages going to be affected by the proposed project. He announced the boycott of so called public hearing by affected people. People second his announcement and leave the pandal. They sat outside pandal and start Dharna (sit-in), meeting, shouting slogans.
Inside pandal public hearing was going on, with the people brought from Devprayag-Srinagar (closest town) already from NHPC. This is the same strategy which has been use by the project proponent every where.
We demanded that the public hearing panel should meet people who are sitting on Dharna.

After the so called public hearing the presiding officer C.D.O. Tehri Ms. Sojanya and S.D.M. of Kritinagar Mr. Dumka came outside to meet people. We told them that people did not know about the documents like Environment Impact assessment report and management plan. Only after the campaign starts by Matu peoples’ organisation affected people came to know about the real meaning of public hearing and about the documents.
What has been done:-
A letter 12-1-2007 was sent to the Sec. MoEF and the Member Secretary of UEPPCB, then again on 19-1-2007, then on 20-1-2007, then on 22-1-2007 requesting them for postponement of the public hearing by affected people. On 20-1-2007 affected villagers organised a mass protest before the S.D.M. Kiritinagar District Tehri against the conducting the public hearing without informing the real impact of the project to the people. This was the ever first mass protest by dam affected people on the issue of providing EIA and EMP in Hindi. More then 250 people rallied from village Maletha to Kirtinagar. They were shouting slogan No information-No Dam. After these long agitation and campaign the executive summary of the EIA & EMP was distributed in the affected villages and which was not sufficient to know about the impact of the project. A leaflet ‘41 benefits of project’ was also distributed, which was only an exercise to conceal the real impact of the project.

She said that she was not aware about the previous letter written by the villagers and gave assurance that all these points raised previously and now in the letter sent by people, all will be the part of the public hearing proceedings.

Peoples basic demands are:-

  • The EIA and EMP report and other document should be made available at the village level & make them understand at least one month prior to the public hearing.
  • All the document should be in Hindi. Govt. always talks about promoting Hindi.
  • This public hearing should be conducted after the formation of competent Govt. and should also be conducted at least in two of the affected villages.
Ravinder Bist
Development for all, not only for few

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