No clearance to Devsari Dam till date
Himalayan villagers mark Makar Sankranti at Paindarganga-
Panchprayag Confluence with resolve to intensify struggle
Let Pindar flow freely ! Let us live fearlessly ! were the slogans that reverberated the hills of the Pindarganga valley, situated in the lap of the Himalayas. Hundreds of villagers from different villages marked Makar Sankranti this year by assembling at the confluence of five rivers at Panchprayag and resolved to leapfrog to the next phase of the struggle against mega dams in the region. The immediate challenge is the struggle against the 252 MW Hydro-Electric Dam proposed on the Pindar river in the Chameli District of Uttarakhand. Pindar is a significant tributary of Ganga, which meets Alaknanada at the Karnprayag confluence.
The day began with a ritualistic dip in the Pindar followed by a public conversation, wherein the locals highlighted the cultural significance of Panchprayag and also discussed strategies to take forward the struggle to keep Pindar alive and free of dams. Balwant Agri of Talor village stated that Panchprayag has been in existence for centuries. It is not just a cultural hallmark, but part of people’s lives and we shall not let it be damned. Dinesh Mishra of Haat village questioned the credibility of the dam building companies that have concealed the crucial fact in the project documents that there is a Panchprayag (confluence of 5 rivers) in the area. “We will not let our identities to be drowned”, he said. Former President of the Deval Market Dealers Association stated that Panchprayag is only next to Badrinath in significance and it should not be damned.
Environmental Activist and NAPM Convenor, Vimalbhai informed the gathering that till date the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has not granted clearance to the Dam. The Forest Advisory Committee has infact directed the project authorities to furnish further documents and information, he said. It is indeed notable that the struggle of the people of the Pindar valley has ensured that the Dam could not be built for the past 6 years. The sham official ‘public hearings’ to push the project could not go ahead since 2009, due to popular protests.
Notwithstanding the fact that the project authorities hands-in-glove with the administration tried to conclude the ‘paper formalities’ by conducting a fake ‘public hearing’ on 20th January, 2011, thousands of people participated in an actual People’s Hearing organized by Matu Jan Sangathan and Bhu-Swami Sangharsh Samiti on 23rd April, 2011 and vocally protested against the Dam, exposing the falsity of the government ‘hearing’, as well as asserting the strength of the people of the region.
The country still remembers Uttarakhand and the dams-induced havoc caused in 2013 is fresh in the minds of the local residents, who know for sure that more damning of the Himalayan rivers would prove to be a monumental disaster and death-noose for the environment and people of the region. The destruction caused in June, 2013 in the villages in and around Alaknanda-Ganga was due to Vishnuprayag and Srinagar dams.
A disaster of this scale compelled the Hon’ble Supreme Court to take a serious cognizance of the deleterious impacts of dams and directed that no fresh clearances would be given to hydro-electric projects in the region. The Ravi Chopra Committee constituted pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court also concluded in its Report that the dams in the region have at least a “30% share” in the June, 2013 Uttarakhand disaster. Pindar herself showed her furious form in 2013 and has conveyed the message that she will not brook any damning. Is the government listening?
Not sure. But the people of the region certainly are. Aware. And that is why, as the meeting concluded, they all resolved in a united voice”
Our struggle shall not only continue but even intensify until Pinder river is liberated from the dams “!!
We associate with National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (http://napm–india.org/)
हमारी सभ्यता, हमारी संस्कृति और हमारा स्वराज्य अपनी जरुरतें दिनोंदिन बढ़ाते रहने पर, भोगमय जीवन पर निर्भर नही करते; परन्तु अपनी जरुरतों को नियंत्रित रखने पर, त्यागमय जीवन पर, निर्भर करते है।