31 tribal women in Holi village, Chamba arrested for protest against hydro-project and asserting forests rights

25th March 2014

This evening (25th March 2014), the Chamba Police arrested 31 tribal women of Holi village, Chamba District at the power house site of the GMR promoted 180 MW Bajoli Holi Hydroelectricity Project. The women have been peacefully protesting for the past two years against the construction of the project which has been granted Forest Clearance without the consent of the local Gram Sabhas, in violation of the Forest Rights Act 2006. Holi village is going to be impacted by the project resulting in deforestation, drying up of water sources and forced displacement due to blasting and leakage from the yet to be built tunnel and surge shaft of the project. The move is reflective of the high-handed behaviour of the Chamba District Administration at a time when the election code of conduct is in place. The Ministry of Environment and Forests had granted forest clearance to the project merely on the basis of a certificate issued by the Deputy Commissioner, Chamba stating that there were no forest rights to be settled on the 75 hectare forest land to be diverted for the project. The original survey of the project conducted by the HP State Electricity Board had located the 15 Km long tunnel and power house of the project on the uninhabited right bank of the Ravi River, which the project proponent shifted to the left bank having dense forests and population of 4 Gram Panchayats of the area. The Himachal Pradesh High court had ruled in favour of the project proponent in a petition filed by some locals, in complete disregard of the violation of Forest Rights Act. The decision of the High Court has been challenged by the local petitioners. Read more

Courtesy: him dhara

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