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Dholi Ganga disaster: People just don't want dam, villagers tell activists, blame NTPC

Counterview Desk 

Activists Vimal Bhai, Dinesh Panwar and Bharat Chauhan of the Uttarakhand civil rights organisation Matu Jansangthan, who were in Tapovan and Raini villages to assess the impact of the Dhouli Ganga disaster that took place on February 7, have said that things went worse because of the “disregard of security arrangements and criminal negligence by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) dam.”
People told the activists that “they do not need any relief material”, but strongly opposed the dam and said “they just don't want this dam”. In a statement, the activists regretted, “Sadly, the government has not even declared a day of mourning in Uttarakhand. NTPC has not even taken out a statement of condolence.” it wonders “Are the lives of these working laborers worth only Rs 4 lakh?”

Text:

On February 7, 2021, the barrage gates at Tapovan village were closed. Due to which fast flowing water collided with the gate and entered the Headrace tunnel on the left. The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is responsible for the loss of life of the families of its own employees and workers. This accident is a result of complete disregard of security arrangements and criminal negligence. We cannot hide the issue of local warming by blaming glacier breakdown or global warming.
Sadly, the government has not even declared a day of mourning in Uttarakhand. NTPC has not even taken out a statement of condolence. Are the lives of these working laborers worth only Rs 4 lakh? The dams which are promoted as development are responsible for the killing of these workers.
Matu Jan Sangathan had already paid tribute to these martyrs in its statement on February 9. The dead bodies coming out everyday are drowning in long lasting grief. We have no words to console the grieving families. The eyes are full with tears as a tribute to the dead.
We salute the personnel of National Disaster Response Force, Indian Army, ITBP, SDRF and local police. May their efforts be successful. Those who are missing get safe guard. At the same time, we also salute the Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee of Joshimath, who are constantly providing accommodation and food to the soldiers.
NTPC received environmental clearance on February 8, 2005 to build the Tapovan Vishnugad project. This project was expected to be commissioned in 2011. But the project has been continuously stalled due to the fragile environmental conditions of the region. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Coffer Dam broke, barrage was damaged several times. In 2009, the Rs 200 crore tunnel boring machine brought to build the head race tunnel was stuck in the tunnel itself. Then it was stuck again in 2016.
According to the information received, the TBM tunnel is still stuck. Meanwhile, due to tunnel boring, a huge water source erupts which is destroying the ground water in Joshimath. Because of this, the design of the tunnel has also changed by the company, o assessment report of which has been revealed. The cost of the project continues to increase. Environmental conditions are negating the project.
Remember, in 1979, the local administration had objected to the road construction, because Joshimath is situated on a large landslide. Right now large construction work is going on very fast. So, shall we just get over calling it a natural disaster? In such large projects, is there no security, no system of early warning?
Shall we just get over calling it a natural disaster? In such large projects, is there no security, no system of early warning?
As soon as Uttarakhand became a state, hydropower projects and tourism were considered as a source of income and a sign of development. Apart from the profit and loss of these projects, there is no attention given to the self-protection of these dam projects and what should happen with the workers working in these projects in case of dam break. No safety system has been created regarding dam related accidents yet.
The Tehri Hydro Development Corporation failed to handle the Tehri Dam in 2010. There were so many incidents of workers being killed in its tunnel. In 2012, there was no alarm system when a cloud burst in the Asi Ganga. Both the Kaldi Gad (9.5 MW) project and the Maneri-Bhali Phase-2 on Bhagirathi were Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam projects. It took more than an hour to get the water from Kaldigad to Maneri Bhali. But even then the gate of Maneri Bhali-2 could not open.
Also in 2006, six people died because water was suddenly released from Maneri Bhali projects without any prior information. The 2013 disaster shook the entire country including Uttarakhand. Every kind of relief reached here from all over the world. Sadly the early alarm system did not exist even then and was not even on 7 February 2021. So who is to blame?
We visited Tapovan village and Raini village where power house of the Rishi Ganga project located. The people of Raini village said that they do not need any relief material. They said that they provide shelter to people in their homes who came to their village. They provide wooden sticks to burn to security forces and others. They strongly opposed the dam and said that they just don't want this dam. Now this dam should be closed.
It is known that there have been frequent accidents in the 13.5 MW Rishi Ganga project. The project user died of a rock fall in 2011. Even after that, the project suffered significant damage in many accidents. All this suggests that the environmental condition of the entire region is quite fragile.
Matu Jansangthan demands:
  1. The government should file a prima facie case for unintentional murder and criminal negligence on NTPC.
  2. This entire case should be investigated by technical experts headed by retired High Court or Supreme Court Judge.
  3. Workers' families should be given a permanent employment and a tax-free amount of 50 lakh.
  4. The Supreme Court should immediately take cognizance of this and execute the pending case in this context.
  5. Both projects should be closed.

Comments

Anonymous said…
The Uttarakhand people are confused. The opposition is misleading them. With these dams their incomes will double in the next year. Ask Modi. Ask the farmers. The people (Uttarakhand and Farmers) do not know what they want only the Industrialists - the Construction firms - The power generation equipment firms and Modi bhai know everything. Well they know what to do in the next elections - even though it may not help - half the work is already done.

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