12-1-2007: Update from Matu Peoples’ Organisation
Pipalkoti-Vishnugad HEP Second Public Hearing:
Another fake exercise
Project Name: Proposed Vishnugad-Pipalkoti Hydroelectric Project (444MW)
River: Alaknanda (Chamoli Distt.) Uttarakhand
Agency: Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC)
Attached photos (17-10-06) were taken by Mr. Priyabrata from LIFE
(A collective of lawyers working on Environment issues) who attended the public hearing.
On 9th January without any changes to the documents and without providing any documents in Hindi to the affected people, the 2nd EIA public hearing of proposed Vishnugad-Pipalkoti HEP was held.
The two public hearing held on this project were identical despite the time gap of 2.5 months. In between, people were not given the right to complete information regarding the project which they were demanding — the Environment Impact Assessment Report and Environment Management Plan and other documents. Instead they were told more hollow promises related to the project. Nor were peoples’ demands met by the officials of T.H.D.C.
When on 09/01/07 the EIA public hearing, began the affected people started raising slogans against the cancellation of the hearing without giving relevant documents. One group raised slogans and sat out on the road and started presenting the hazards of the projects through speeches.
People of Haat village came in the form of a rally to the public hearing. They were shouting slogans under the banner – Shri Laxmi Narain Punarwas Jankalyan Samiti (Shri Laxmi Narain Rehabilitation Welfare Association) against T.H.D.C.
The block chairman Shri Bisht who was sitting on the panel, on seeing me, demanded the exclusion of outsiders (i.e. me) and only the inclusion of affected people in presenting their demand. The reason he took this line is that I point-blank asked him whether everyone present in the panel had read the EIA report?
A letter prepared by Matu People’s Organiztion and the Samiti was read by Mr. Sharad Gairola. After this all the people of Haat village and others came out and sat on road with other people. The protest and slogan shouting continued in the presence of 2 officials of UEP & PCB, S.D.M. and Block Chairman.
On the stage around 10-12 people presented their problems. The S.D.M. gave a speech on stage to the public assuring them that public hearing should in fact be held in the village and this process will continue there. And there he concluded the hearing for the day.
UEP & PCB’s Shri Pal agreed with me that this was highly irregular. While the S.D.M. was on his way out, I asked him a question as to what will happen to the public hearing. On this he replied that “people presented their problems which were resolved, so what more do they want? Not everything can be done in day.” After this the S.D.M. left in his car. This public hearing was held in the context of old information. It seems, the officials of T.H.D.C. have made the maximum use of the experiences of Tehri.
In the last EIA public hearing which was held on 17/10/06, affected people created uproar about not being provided with complete information related to the project. World Bank also has a stake in the project. Matu People’s Organization sent a letter to the World Bank asking about their involvement in the proposed project, along with a letter from the affected people containing their own analysis.
A date for next public hearing of the project was fixed on 09/01/07.
THIS UPDATE REFLECTS THE WORK OF MATU PEOPLES ORGANISATION
Development for all, not only for few
Matu Peoples’ Organisation
Delhi Contact:- D-334/ 10, Ganesh Nagar, Pandav Nagar Complex, Delhi-110092