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The power of corporate greed in a Himalayan state

Here we take a look at what is happening next door in Himachal Pradesh where a big push to develop more power projects is taking place.

By Arun Shrivastava
The People’s Voice, 23 April 2007

Hydro-electric power projects of private firms in Himachal Pradesh are being pushed by local officers who have made it clear to the people that they have vested interest in these projects. Officers of the state government have tried to influence local activists to support projects that would destroy the livelihoods of local villagers. Revenue officials are openly canvassing for these projects collecting signatures from villagers for approval. Where popular opposition is strong an environment of fear is being created by the local Police. Many Village Council [GP, or Village Councils] the chiefs [called Pradhans] are after petty contracts and decisions taken by the Gram Sabha [Village general body] are being overturned which is unconstitutional. This not only raises questions of conflict of interest, but given the scale of hydro-electric projects in this ecologically sensitive state, raises serious questions of long term sustainability of the Himalayas as a region of bio-diversity, carbon sink and a region that moderates global climate.

In Himalayan region livelihoods are inextricably linked with eco systems. Damage this complex system and livelihoods are fundamentally affected causing immense hardship to women and loss of income to households. [more]