Cancel power project, demand Himachal villagers

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 03, 2013 14:50 hrs

Shimla, Jan 3 (IANS) Residents of a remote village in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh gathered here Thursday to press for the cancellation of an upcoming mega hydropower project of the state-run Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd. (HPPCL).

The residents, mostly belonging to Lippa gram panchayat, met Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and sought cancellation of the 130 MW Kashang run-of-the-river project (stage II and III) on the Satluj river tributaries.

They expressed their apprehension that the project would not only damage natural resources and but also affect their livelihood.

"The construction may lead to ecological disaster as the project is proposed to be constructed by diverting the waters of Kerang stream to Kashang stream, which may lead to frequent floods in the area," villager Jeewan Negi told IANS.

The villagers also apprised the chief minister about the forest rights violation by the project authorities.

They said 80 percent families of Lippa village have their fields in upper Mohal area, which would be mainly affected by the construction.

An official statement from the chief minister's office said Virbhadra Singh heard their demands and assured them that he would look into the issue.

Earlier, the National Green Tribunal, a judicial panel, hearing environment-related cases had stopped the Kashang project authorities from utilising the forest area.

In its interim order, passed Nov 23 last year, the tribunal directed the HPPCL "not to fell the trees standing on the disputed lands and not to utilise forest land for non-forest activities until further orders", effectively stalling the stage I and II of the project, which is jointly of 120 MW.

Locals had challenged the project's forest clearance granted by the ministry of environment and forests.

In October 2010, a team of the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA), another judicial panel in the country allowed to hear grievances against environmental clearances, visited the Kashang project site and heard the local people's arguments against the project.

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