Skip to main content

Opposition to Modi's "pet" dam proposed in Uttarakhand gains momentum amidst "fake" environmental public hearing

By Our Representative
As the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on the for River Valley Projects, under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), deliberated on the proposed Pancheshwar project in Uttarakhand as the world's second highest dam on Tuesday, a group dissenting protestors outside insisted, they too should be heard.
Talking with media persons, Vimal Bhai of Matu Jan Sangathan, which has been in the forefront in the campaign against the dam, said, "We are here to ask how the committee will take a decision in 45 minutes about a project on which Rs 40,000 crore are going to be spent, and which is going to determine the fate of 50,000 people in two countries -- India and Nepal."
"Several affected communities, environmental groups, and people's organizations have sent in written objections voicing serious concerns over the the 5040 MW Pancheshwar multipurpose project", said Vimal Bhai.
The EAC at its meeting is said to have discussed on how quickly to provide environment clearance for the project.
The scoping clearance for the dam, in the pipeline for decades ,was granted in October 2016. While the EAC in May 2017 seemed to raise some environmental issues, even set up a joint Indo-Nepal mechanism for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), it reversed its decision, apparently under political pressure, on the ground that it would "unnecessarily" delay the project.
"Since then it has become clear that the MoEFCC, the state administration, and the project proponents are in a rush to push the project", said Vimal Bhai.
Added Shankar Kharayat of the Mahakali ki Awaaz, another people's organization opposed to the project, "The project-affected villages in this part of Uttarakhand lack proper road connectivity and are suffer from landslides during monsoon. Yet, they held a public hearing for the project in August, in monsoon, when it was difficult for the affected people to reach the public hearing venue."
Said Kharayat, "There was lack of availability of complete information about the project, including relevant documents (EIA report in Hindi, executive summary in Hindi and Social Impact Assessment Report in Hindi), as well as lack of clarity about the objective of the public consultation process."
Informed sources estimated, 31,000 families would be adversely impacted by the project that would also submerge 11,600 hectares (ha) of land in 134 villages on the Uttarakhand side alone. Additionally, three districts of Nepal are going to be impacted.
Already, hundreds of people have protested against the earlier three public consultations that were organized in closed premises in Champawat, Pithoragarh, and Almora district headquarters. Very few people could make their submissions, and yet the written submissions alone go well into 650 plus pages.
"People made oral testimonies, which did not come on record even", said Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), who has in his submission critiqued the "shoddy" EIA study done by Government of India consultants, WAPCOS.
The Pancheshwar dam on Mahakali river is a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been singing its paeans at various fora at a time when the hydropower sector is in a massive slump. As many as 13 projects are being considered for a bailout package of Rs 26,000 crore due to their financial unviability, especially in the Himalayan region.
It is being undertaken despite the massive Kedarnath tragedy four years ago, which led experts to point towards the fragile ecology and geology of the Himalayas, which has been tampered with by large-scale construction and development activities.

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

PepsiCo warned: Withdraw cases against Gujarat farmers or face dire consequences

By Our Representative
About 200 farmers’ leaders and activists, in a letter to Dr KV Prabhu, chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA), and Dr R C Agrawal, registrar general, PPVFRA, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India, have demanded that PepsiCo immediately withdraw all the legal suits it has slapped on many potato farmers in different districts of Gujarat.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

During Emergency, the ruler was extolled but Opposition wasn't punched around: Scribe

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released book, “India: The Wrong Transition”, by a top Delhi-based scribe Anand K Sahay, has quoted “journalistic circles” to say that the Indian mainstream media – with certain “honourable exceptions” – has virtually abandoned the “practice of journalism”, and  this happened following a “sting operation” that showed that “the crème de la crème of Indian journalism were only too willing, for a suitable price, to let poisonous Hindutva propaganda prevail in their news columns.”

Ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers tell Modi: Pragya Thakur doesn't represent India's rich heritage

Counterview Desk
In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".