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)
Four months after the first EIA Public Hearing of proposed Kotli-Bhel Part-1 ‘B’, Uttarakhand State Pollution Control Board held the 2nd Public Hearing in Pouri District. In the last EIA Public Hearing, held on 28th January, 2007, people attending the hearing stated that neither the EIA nor the EMP was provided as the requisite places as per the EIA 2006 Notification. The EIA Notification clearly provides that a minimum notice period of 30 days were to be given which was not done.
The 2nd Public Hearing was organized in a primary school of Khandukhal Village, Pauri District. At the very onset itself, the people were against the Public Hearing being conducted. They told the Chief Development Officer, who was chairing the panel, that NHPC officials had no right to sit in the panel because they were one of the interested parties.
Finally, when the NHPC officers left the panel, the summary of the EIA was presented. Soon the Headmen of Village Laxhmoli stood up and asked him, “will it possible for you to remember all these? You have to come to our villages and told us before.” The speaker had to stop and sat down.
Thereafter, the people took over the charge of the Public Hearing. The first speaker Mr. Puran Singh Kathat of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (a political party) objected to the project and raised the point that the requisite document were not made available to the people and also the very basic issue of rehabilitation.
Satendra Bhatt of Village Maletha warned the administration and NHPC that they would fight the construction of the dam.
Dr. Bharat Jhunjhunwala, a senior journalist and economist and one of the residents of an affected village Laxhmoli raised legal, economic and environmental issues. He also said that the Public Hearing was wrongly conducted and that the summary of EIA and EMP Report was not true..EIA and EMP has not addressed various important issues such as the quality of water, carrying capacity of the river etc. Other alternatives were not studied either. He also stated that the New Rehabilitation Policy is under way and that compensation for loss of resources was not sufficient. The issues of voluntary sale of land provision was also raised. He strongly condemned the construction of the Dam.
Mrs. Anita from Digoli Village said, “The river Alaknanda is our mother and we will not you to bind our mother. You are snatching our land from us but you can not provide even employment to my sons. We have won the fight for our State Uttarakhand so as we can fight to save our mother Ganga”.
Headmen of Village, Bhaiswara Mr. Vikram Singh Rawat, spoke on behalf of Headmen of other Villages and Matu Peoples’ Organisation, about the shortcomings in EIA & EMP Report. Issues regarding the river culture of Uttarakhand, carrying capacity of the river, global warming, alternative of proposed dam, issue of low rate of oxygen in the reservoir, green belt, Disaster Management Plan, what will be the quantum of water in down stream always. NHPC is failed to taking care of oustees as it can be seen in Onkareshwer Dam, Narmada Sagar, Camera Dam-1,2,3; Parbati 2 & 3 and other dams build by them. Because these issues raised on 28th January were not resolved, a letter given on that day was annexed..
Headman of Village Maletha, Mr. Raghubir Singh Negi, raised the issue of land acquisition Notice served by the administration. Mr. Devendra Sing, Headmen of village Dhoulkandi, said this dam was like an atom bomb on their heads which they did not want. Some speakers raised the issue of proper rehabilitation.
Finally, Vimalbhai made it clear that this act of administration was disloyal to the people. On one side Public Hearing was being conducted and other side Notice of land acquisition was served personally to some villages.
When minutes were prepared Mr. Mishra, the NHPC Project Manager said openly that project was already cleared. MPO objected to this statement and gave letter to the panel requesting them to include this in the minutes as well. Panel keept the letter but did not mention it in the minutes as it was not said in the Public Hearing.
Minutes of public hearing were made available by the PCB officers and an open discussion was held. They tried to remove the fact that the peoples did not want the dam. Dr. Bharat Jhunjhunwala strongly pointed this out and PCB had to include this in the minutes.
In between the Public Hearing people were shouting slogans like ‘We want Ganga free’, ‘ADB go back’, ‘NHPV go back’, ‘We want development not destruction’ etc. They were also holding play cards with same slogans.
Development for all, not only for few