SRINAGAR: Cautioning the government against the unaddressed fallout of mega hydel projects on environment , the lives and economic interests of local communities, PDP today said the administration must learn lessons from the outrage caused by the insensitive execution of Kishan Ganga hydel project in Bandipore- Gurez area.
In a statement the party chief spokesperson Naeem Akhtar said the local administration has been unfortunately reduced to a handmaiden of the NHPC and is collaborating with it to deny the rights of the local population. Imposition of curfew and restrictions under section 144 might be a standard practice for the government to muzzle political dissent but the application of this draconian method on poor and dispossessed villagers can only help in snowballing the resentment against the exploitation of state resources by the NHPC- NC nexus, said Akhtar.
Akhtar said instead of looking into the genuine demands of the local residents and making NHPC to compensate for their losses the government is using force against the complainants itself. Having come immediately after the Chief Ministers visit to the hydel project it seems the administrative crackdown on the villages of Kralpora, Matrigam, Pazalpora and adjoining areas has his approval and blessings. The Chief Minister reportedly did not even interact with the complainants when they presented their petition to him on his recent visit to the site.
Referring to the colossal impact on environment, ecology and the society of projects like Kishan Ganga, Akhtar said the damage on this front is far more than can be quantified in terms of revenue that is lost to the state as a result of the generation of power without sharing it in an equitable measure with the state. He said the distinct cultural and linguistic identity of the residents of Gurez valley is severely threatened by their dislocation as a result of the construction of dam for the project there. Not only this, the dislocation might in the long term create a large number of destitute who have been evicted from their habitat. In rest of the country strong movements have been launched against such invasion of cultural identity and economic interests, but, in J&K the NC while selling out the power projects has kept none of these issues in mind or sought any compensation for them.
Akhtar said the demand for adequate compensation for the land acquired for the project is genuine as it has deprived a large number of farmers of their only source of sustenance. The government instead of using force against the victims should seek better package for effected farmers.
Calling for strict implementation of environmental discipline Akhtar said the reports about contamination of water in the area must be taken seriously and addressed with adequate measures. He said there are reports that fisheries in the Boonar and Madumati has been severely affected and its impact is felt even in the Wular Lake.
Similarly, the very visible degradation of forests around the construction site remains unaddressed and instead of any compensatory plantation the damage to forest wealth and scenery of the area continues unabated. He said if the trend remains uncontrolled the vast tourism potential of the area will also be severely affected by continued degradation of the mountains and forests there.
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