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

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.