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A Report on the Falenda Agreement

By Rajiv Lochan Sah, Editor Nainital Samachar (Translated by Chandan Dangi)

Recently, in North Kerala, PLACHIMADA village has agitated against Coca-Cola Corporation’s giant plant in the state which drew underground water for the main feed to its operations. The MNC had a real tough time and the villagers facing acute shortage of water had to resort to continuous agitation and ANDOLAN. The result was quite encouraging for all activists and the case is now being fought by the MNC in the Supreme Court of India. There is a similar case in Uttarakhand, where the people of FALENDA have rigorously fought a long battle against the forced Power Project in their area.

UA as also known to be a URJA PRADESH, has sold out many rivers for the 150 odd small hydel power projects. Projects have been tendered through the INTERNET and sold out quickly to realise the dream of energy state. The story dates back when at a village FALENDA in Tehri district, the state government awarded a 22.5MW power project. THe villages to be affected by this project are, SARUNA, RAUSAAL, JHANETH, THAYELI and FALENDA. The locals did not have any clue till March 2004 when SWASTY Power Co. got the award for project at BHILANGANA river.

The villages were taken by surprise when the construction began at the site and work on a diverson tunnel began. They were sure of a resulting acute shortage of water and related amenities around their villages. The question of their survival became an issue and they resorted to agitation against the project. The struggle and story is already known to all of us.

After all the agitations and several arrests of children and women by the administration , the government had to agree to talks. On MAY 4, the Commissioner of Garhwal Shri SUBHASH KUMAR called a meet in Dehradun. The agitators were clear in their submission to the Commissioner and insisted that their RIGHTS to common resources be kept intact. They are not against development of the area and not against making a dam on the river. However, they should be provided ample opportunities for sharing of water. Other common points agreed in general on the meet included:

  1. The project owner will provide a separate canal (GOOL) for providing water for the villages for irrigation.
  2. The diversion tunnel construction should not be allowed to use EXPLOSIVES.
  3. Project owner will provide alternatives for fodder as 5 hectares of land will be destroyed.
  4. Preference should be given to the locals for suitable employment.
  5. In the event of any calamity or major distruction, the villages will be provided INSURANCE cover.
  6. The Company will also exercise mass plantation in and around the project site.
  7. The river water will be used only after the villages needs are met.

The other policy issues and demands were put forth to the government for further consideration as above points were in principal accepted by Subhash Kumar on May 5th.

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