Skip to main content

Uttarakhand dams: Protests force Govt of India to agree to "review" its stance

By Surender Arya et al
Following protests in Uttarakhand, especially in Pithoragar and Almora, against the proposed Pancheshwar and Rupaligad dams, and in Delhi in front of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), the Government of India is learnt to agreed to have a re-look into all the documents received by the Experts Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the MoEFCC for the clearance of the two dams.
Meeting activists protesting outside MoEFCC, joint-secretary Gyanesh Bharti said he would also look into other issues raised before him after he was told that if the government did not stop its move towards what they called "destruction of Uttarakhand", strong voices would be raised in villages and cities.
If in protests in Delhi were led by National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG) and Mahakali Lok Sangathan (MLS), elsewhere they were led by Uttarakhand Parivartan Party, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and Uttarakhand Ekta Manch, supported by MLS activists.
In Delhi, activists breached the gates of MoEFCC and entered in with banners and posters. With a little embarrassment, the security personnel took everyone outside the ministry building, but later, joint-secretary Bharti met a delegation consisting of Harendra Awasthi, Vimal Bhai and Shridhar.
If Vimal Bhai apprised the senior official of irregularities, procedural deficiencies, use of police force, political interference and pressure, and violation environmental laws during public hearings, Awasthi spoke about how, instead of gardens of guava fruit, there existed forests of the fruit. "Migration is the lowest in our area in comparison to whole of Uttarakhand", he said.
Shridhar said that the environmental figures were incorrect and studies were incomplete, insisting, all the studies should be completed in time, and till then, EAC should not recommend environmental clearance. Following official assurance, protests ended with the warning that if the ministry approves the dams without looking into the issues they had raised, it would have to face a strong reaction from the people.
In Almora, Uttarakhand Parivartan Party and supporting organisations held a protest in front of the office of the district magistrate, to whom they delivered a letter, insisting that EAC should not clear the dams. Party chief PC Tiwari said there were irregularities in the public hearing in the district. Rekha Dhasmana said the dams would adversely impact livelihood of people, while Govind Ram Verma said, "We will not tolerate displacement in the name of development."
In Pithoragarh, supported by members of MLS, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal sent a memorandum to the EAC. MLS' Sumit Mehar, who met a local official, said, there was lack of information among the 84 villages that were affected, especially in the interior ones, and the government was carrying out paperwork keeping the public in the dark. "This leads to deception in the name of development", he said.
Village chiefs Chaman Singh, Keshav Singh, Vazir Singh and Tara Singh handed over a separate memorandum on behalf of their villages on irregularities, sending it to MoEFCC through the sub-divisional magistrate.
There was also demonstration in Jhulaghat, a huge market in the Indo-Nepal border. Harivallabh Bhatt said that he did not want to leave his land, while Viplav Bhatt said that the government has proved to be hollow on big questions like displacement and environment. Rural traders swore they would stick to their traditional markets.

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

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.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.