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World Bank team told: False cases being registered against project affected persons of proposed Uttarakhand dam

By Our Representative
Matu Jansangthan, a people’s organization in Uttarkakhand, has taken strong exception to World Bank clearing Vishnugaad-Peepalkoti hydroelectric project on Alaknanda Ganga river, saying, the Bank’s officials are providing “misleading explanation” that the project-affected people’s problems have been resolved and the project could continue without any hurdle.
Led by the civil rights group, the villagers surrounded the World Bank officials who visited the site on March 4. “Bank officials mostly remained silent or diverted questions when asked about resolution of problems related to rehabilitation, ecological devastation and environmental concerns”, the NGO said in a statement.
Being implemented by the state-owned Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC), the NGO said, the project is being implemented in “violation of the Supreme Court order dated August 13, 2013”, adding, “Opposition to the project has spread all across the villages -- Palla, Jaakhola, Huon, Pokhni, Tirosi, Laanjhi, Harsari, Urgam, Matth, Jaretha, Bajni, Gangot, and Durgapur.”
It added, “Villagers are going to be affected due to the tunneling work of this hydroelectric project. The tunneling has been questioned by various environmentalists on the ground of making hills vulnerable to landslides and ecological devastation.”
Referring to the objections raised in front of the World Bank officials, the statement said, “Murlidhar Bhandari of Pokhni village has put a question that if the Ganga River will go into the tunnel, where will they do the funeral?”
Further, “Sarpanch Maatbar Singh asked about the replies which he has not received to the letter he sent in October 2015 to the company. Another sarpanch, Kanvar Singh Bhandari of Laanji village said the tunneling will affect dangerously the water, forest, and the land of the affected area.”
The meeting with the World Bank officials was held at the Siyasen Guest House of THDC.
“In all, 21 villagers have been framed in a legal case by a contractor company of THDC, alleging the disruption to the project work”, the statement said, adding, “People have stopped the project work, staged protests because they might face landslide at the outlet of the tunnel from where the river will come out.”
It noted, though the district magistrate of Chamoli has assured that an investigation would be carried out, its report has not been made public, adding, despite this, at several places also villagers are being “framed” and cases are being filed.
The NGO said, “This clearly shows the policies of World Bank where they are in a way against their own safeguard policies of rehabilitation and environmental and proving the work of Dam project right by ignoring the serious issues of rehabilitation and environmental devastation.”
Calling it a “blatant violation of World Bank policies”, it insisted, “The affected villagers had complained with the so-called independent investigation team of the World Bank, too. It took a year to complete the report, which miserably fails to address the real issues.”
Following this report, the statement said, “The company and the World Bank are working without any hesitation.” It estimated, in all 74 villagers fall in the dam affected area, yet, it wondered why several villages “did not receive any information regarding the visit of the World Bank team.”

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