The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding the arrest and atrocities perpetuated by the local police in league with the district administration on villagers protesting against the construction of a dam under the Bhilangana Hydel River Project in Tehri Garhwal District, Uttaranchal.
According to the latest information, activists and organizations associated with the Jan Caravan repeatedly approached the district administration for the release of dam activists besides giving a memorandum to the Chief Minister and other Secretaries. The activists who were arrested were finally released by the district administration on 30 November 2005.
The dam authorities have also offered a compensation package to the villagers though this is yet to be given in writing. The compensation package involves:
a) Rs 2.5 lakhs per year to be given to the Phalenda village and Rs 1.5 lakhs to be given to the Sarona village by the dam authorities for village development,
b) Afforestation programmes, fodder development and soil conservation programmes would be undertaken by the dam authorities,
c) Water would be made available to the villagers through a separate canal which would be provided by the dam authorities,
d) The dumping area of the dam is reduced to two from three.
The AHRC is pleased to note the actions taken by the district administration and the compensation package offered by the dam authorities. However, we still urge the Government of Uttaranchal to conduct the Environment Impact Assessment for the 22.5 megawatt plant so that a total analysis of the impact of this project on the livelihood and health of the villagers and on the environment can be carried out. We also urge the authorities to ensure that no further arrests of protesting villagers takes place and there are no atrocities committed against them.