Activists Arrested Protesting against Singoli-Bhatwadi and Phata-Bhyung Hydroelectric Projects
Mandakini River is boiling
Release from Matu People’s Organization
Citizens familiar with the situation in Uttarakhand would know of the demonstrations and protests against the Singoli-Bhatwadi and Phata-Bhyung projects that have been going on for many years. The Kedarghati Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (the Save the Kedar Valley Committee) has been opposing these projects and we support them fully.
Fake cases are being registered against protesters and intimidation using goons and power. In a new move, the administration is trying to suppress the anti-dam movement by intimidating the leaders and putting them in jail. The manner in which respected Ms Sushila Bhandari and Mr Jagmohan Jhingvan of the KBSS were arrested on January 30, 2011 was completely illegal and in infringement of their rights. The dam company is using money-power to serve its vested interests. They were picked up from their dharna 14 days ago, where they were peacefully protesting against the construction of these dams. To allow the arrest of the activists who are protesting in a non-violent manner for a better future for Uttarakhand amounts to selling Uttarakhand to the dam companies.
In the rally held on February 11, 2011 in Rudraprayag, District Headquarters, many prominent activists like the President of KBSS Mr Gangadhar Nautiyal, Mr Madan Mishra of DYFI, Mr Rajaram Semwal, Ms Uma Nautiyal of AIDWA, Mr Dobhal of UKD, many village headmen & peoples’ representatives condemned this unethical arrest. Hundreds of protesters including women marched in Rudraprayag from different affected villages.
Supporters from across the country like the senior Gandhian Radha Bhatt, Vimal Bhai of Matu Jan Sangthan, Annad Panday of Ganga Seva Samiti, Bhuwan also supported the struggle. Letters asking for the immediate release of the arrested activists were sent to the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand.
Supporters from across the country had written to the Chief Minister on February 5, 2009 asking about the need for these large dams. Today, the people struggling for sustainable development are being put behind bars, which is unfortunate for the State of Uttarakhand.
There have been many central committees constituted to assess the social, economic, political, cultural, situational and environmental damages of these large dams. It is clear from their reports that the promises made in the project agreements are never met. Nor are the project proponents seriously worried about the future damages and effects of their projects. Their sole objective is to complete the project, by hook or crook.
This area is an earthquake prone area and older GSI survey reports have made this clear. There have been continuous earthquakes in the village of Singoli. During the devastating earthquake in the Lavla village of Pithoragarh on August 9, 2009 the government had said that it would demarcate the villages affected and relocate them. However, several more villages would be affected by earthquakes when these projects are completed. The land available for rehabilitation in the State is scarce. Where, then, does the government propose to relocate these affected villages? The promises of employment are false which has been made clear from our past experience with large dams. While local employment should be encouraged, large dams are not a dependable source of employment. There are several other such issues which warrant a complete shutdown of these projects.
It is the duty of the State government to protect the interest of its people and the environment. But instead of doing so, the administration in Rudraprayag has resorted to jailing non- violent activists in an attempt to silence them. This deplorable behaviour tarnishes the Government’s image and cannot be allowed to go unacknowledged, if not unpunished, in a democratic society. The Government claims that it is working towards a progressive Uttarakhand; How can such a ‘progressive’ state stand for the false imprisonment of peaceful activists who are genuinely concerned about the future of this State.
Thus in this situation we demand that:
- The Singoli-Bhatwadi and Phata-Bhyung projects are completely shut down
- The arrested activists are released without any conditions
- The State Government create more schemes for sustainable development
Write to Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal, Chief Minister of the State of Uttarakhand to take immediate action.
SMS to Him – above mention demands on his direct Mobile No. 09756937100
Email Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or 0135-2712636, 2665090
Or 0135-2531533, 2755101