Bandipora villagers move court, say NHPC project can bring ‘catastrophe’

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SRINAGAR: The J&K high court has issued a notice to government and National Hydro Electric Power Corporation Limited, seeking directions to them to redraft the policy of resettlement and rehabilitation for the project affected families of the Kishanganga Hydroelectric Power Project Bandipora.
The petition has been filed by nine residents of Kralpora Check Bandipora in representative capacity and they allege that the ongoing project can bring catastrophe to many villages of north Kashmir.
Hearing the petition, a bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar directed the government through Chief Secretary besides Project Manager Kishenganga Hydro Electric Power Project Bandipora and Deputy Commissioner Bandipora to file the response as it posted the plea for further consideration next month.
The petitioners, through their counsel advocate Altaf Mehraj, also seek constitution of a Special Committee for overseeing the implementation of the re-drafted policy.
According to Altaf, Kishanganga River emanates from the Gilgit region of the Kashmir valley and lead into Pakistan after running across the Gurez Valley.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir in collaboration with the government of India, in order to explore and utilise the waters of the river for the purposes of the generation of hydro electric power, handed over the execution of the kishanganga Hydro Electric Power Project to the National Hydro Electric Power Corporation (NHPC).
It started the work in 2009 and tentatively the project would be ready by the year 2016.
For the purpose of hydro-electric power generation, a 37 meters dam is being constructed wherefrom the river water shall be diverted through a 23 KM long tunnel, cutting across a huge mountainous region from Gurez to the underground power house located in the Kralpora village.
The project is likely to generate 330 MW of electricity by utilising the river water and the water post generation of electricity shall go to the Wular Lake.
“The construction of the entire Kishanganga Hydro Electric Project though being seen and proposed to be beneficial to the extent of generation of electricity, shall unveil a manmade catastrophe in the form of the enhanced chances of frequent flooding of the areas of population around the Wular Lake besides shall pose a great threat to the historical township of Sopore and also expose the entire area to unending ecological disasters,” Altaf said.
The project, Altfa said, has the effect of displacements of the people of many villages in the Gurez valley and also a large number of families of Kralpora Village.
“In terms of the reports prepared by the project authorities through different institutions, the project would have more demerits as compared to the merits.”
He said that as per the reports got prepared by project authorities, a total of 384 families comprising of the people belonging to Dard-shin schedule tribe of Gurez besides check and Kralpora in Bandipora shall be displaced due to the project either partially or wholly.
Besides, the project shall affect the people by loss of agricultural land, the housing structures, shed for cattle and structures for fodder storage, markets, schools, religious places like mosques and some structures belonging to the different state departments.
The project shall also affect the sources of clean drinking water in the project adjoining areas, he said.
He said Ministry of Rural Development(department of land resources) GOI has devised and drafted a National Policy for Rehabilitation and Resettlement for the project affected families and for the entire developmental upliftment of the project areas in the year 2007. The policy envisages minimizing the displacement and promotes the least displacing alternatives. It also ensures an adequate rehabilitation package for the project affected families with an emphasis on special care for the weaker sections of society, especially members of the schedule caste and schedule tribes, he said.
It also ensures to provide a better standard of living by providing sustainable income to the project affected families by integrating the rehabilitation concerns into the development planning and implementation process.