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Again an unjust public hearing

Dam Public Hearing ProtestProject Name: Proposed Kotali-Bhel Phase-1 “A+B” Hydroelectric Project (195+280 MW)
River: Bhilangana (Tehri and Pauri District) Uttarakhand
Agency: National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC)

Dispatch from Vimal Bhai and Ravinder Bist, February 5, 2007

At 11am on January 28, hundreds of villagers entered the pandal where the Environmental Public Hearing of proposed Kotli-Bhel Phase 1 “A” was being organized. They were shouting slogans such as “no information, no dam”, “without information, cancel public hearing” etc. Officials of the project (NHPC) and the police tried to stop people forcibly but could not.

Villagers then proceeded to occupy the dais of the public hearing. Pradhan of village Maletha read out a long letter written on behalf of 27 villages that were going to be affected by the proposed project. He announced the boycott of theso called public hearing by the affected people. The crowd seconded his announcement and left the pandal. They sat outside pandal and started Dharna (sit-in) and shouted slogans.

Inside the pandal, the public hearing was proceeding with the people brought in from Devprayag-Srinagar (closest town) already from the NHPC. This is the same strategy which has been used by the project proponents everywhere.

We demanded that the public hearing panel should meet people who are sitting on Dharna. After the so-called public hearing, the presiding officer C.D.O. Tehri Ms. Sojanya and S.D.M. of Kritinagar Mr. Dumka came outside to meet people. We told them that villages did not know about the documents like the Environment Impact assessment report and management plan. Only after the current campaign was started by Matu peoples’ organisation that the affected people came to know about the real meaning of public hearings and about the documents.

Dam Public Hearing Protest Dam Public Hearing Protest Dam Public Hearing Protest
January 16 Protest

Dam Public Hearing Protest Dam Public Hearing Protest Dam Public Hearing Protest
January 28 Protest

What has been done:

A letter 12-1-2007 was sent to the Sec. MoEF and the Member Secretary of UEPPCB, then again repeatedly on 19-1-2007, 20-1-2007, and 22-1-2007 requesting a postponement of the public hearing for the affected people. On 20-1-2007, affected villagers organised a mass protest before the S.D.M. Kirtinagar District Tehri against the public hearing without any information on the real impact of the project to the people. This was the first ever mass protest by dam affected people on the issue of providing EIA and EMP in Hindi. More then 250 people rallied from village Maletha to Kirtinagar. They were shouting the slogan, “no information, no dam.” After this long agitation and campaign, the executive summary of the EIA & EMP was distributed in the affected villages which was not sufficient in detailing the impact of the project. A leaflet, “41 benefits of project” was also distributed, which was only an exercise to conceal the real impact of the project.

The CDO said that she was not aware of the previous letter written by the villagers and gave assurance that all these points raised previously and now in the letter sent by people. All will be the part of the public hearing proceedings.

People’s basic demands are:-

  • The EIA and EMP report and other documents should be made available at the village level at least one month prior to the public hearing.
  • All documents should be in Hindi so that maximum number of people can understand.
  • This public hearing should be conducted after the formation of a competent government and should also be conducted in at least two of the affected villages.

For more information, contact:

Matu Peoples’ Organisation
D 334/10, Ganesh Nagar, Pandav Nagar Complex
Delhi 110092 Phone No.: 011-22485545