We have to climb daily for 3 km across the hills on foot from our village in Uttarkashi district in Uttarakhand to Dodra Kwar village on Himachal border just to charge mobile set”, says Satrama, woman from Pujeli village in Uttarakhand.
Her village is one of those 1,220 villages in hills of Uttarkashi that continues to grope in the dark since the past three years. The villagers are vociferously protesting against stalling of work by the Uttarakhand Government on the two State-owned hydel power projects of 480-Mw Pala Maneri and 381-Mw Bhaironghati besides the Centre owned 600 Mw-Lohari Nagpala, on the Bhagirathi River.
In the name of saving the Holy Ganges, work was stopped after environmentalist Guru Das Agarwal sat on a fast-unto-death in protest against these projects
“The projects were stopped half way even after the relevant clearances. A total of Rs. 15,000 crores have already been spent and the work has been stopped under the pretext that the projects will pollute the Ganges”, regretted Padma Shri award winner and noted environmental activist Avdesh Kaushal,
Kaushal represents Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra that is spearheading the movement. He has even decided to return the honour to the government in protest against the stalling of work at two power projects in Uttarakhand.
He stressed that from Gomukh to Haridwar in the state there is hardly any industry to pollute the Ganges.. But whatever pollution is being created it is done by the holy men whose ashrams have encroached both sides of the river. Their large air conditioned ashrams dispose their drainage directly into the river.
Lilawati Devi from Bhitri village from More block in Uttarkashi points out that her fellow villagers have been left in the lurch. “Our lands have been acquired – while some have been given compensation, others have not, there is a state of utter chaos and in the midst of all this the work got stopped.
The villagers have called for financial compensation from the centre as the Uttarakhand government is so debt laden till the stalled projects begin generating power.
They have further voiced against frivolous use of hydro-energy in the state to run the air-conditioners and other luxurious items in the Ashrams of various Sadhus and saints along the banks of River Ganges.
Src: Daily Pioneer