Environmental Public Hearing of the proposed Devsari HEP, on River Pinder, disrupted by angry villagers

Public Hearing not Performed in Devsari HEP

{for pics see matujan.blogspot.com}
FIR filed against 11 people by name (Vimalbhai, Gabbarsingh etc.) under IPC. 148,332,427,436,504
Agitation is continue in Deval

On 13th October, 2009 the Environmental Public Hearing (PH) of the proposed Devsari HEP (252 MW) on river Pinder, one of the main tributary of Alaknanda River, District Chamoli, Uttarakhand was organised by Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board amidst growing opposition to the Project from the local vilagers. Satluj Jal Vidhut Co. Ltd., a joint venture of Central Govt. and Himachal State is the project proponent.

“WE WANT DEVELOPMENT NOT DESTRUCTION”, “WE HAVE STOPPED THE DAM - PUBLIC HEARING IS FAKE”, “LET PINDER FLOW FREELY” nearly thousand angry people shouted slogans at the proposed hearing site and disrupted the proceedings even before it could begin. The disruption came in the backdrop of earlier such PHs in the region where these have been observed by the authorities as mere formalities. In case of Pala-Maneri, Kotli-Bhel 1-A, 1-B and 2, Lata-Tapovan and some other projects inspite of opposition from people UPCB declared very next day that process of PH is over. So, this became the first occasion when Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board was not able to perform the Public Hearing. 

We had prepared a petition for the public hearing which clarified our opposition to the dam and problems with the project planning, environmental and social problems associated with it. Public hearing time was announced between 11 AM to 2 PM and advertised on big flex banners in the areas other than the main proposed submergence area. People were miffed at this but even then they mobilised in big numbers and after disruption a public meeting was held at the site in opposition to the Dam. People from many villages were represented and many other speakers spoke on the issue of dams in Pinder valley and in Uttarakhand. People showed their strong conviction against the dam. Meeting continued till 2 P.M. 

While the meeting was on UPCB, the sub-divisional magistrate, and SJVNL officers were sitting in the huge tent on chairs. Representative of Deval Sangharsh Samiti (Deval struggle committee) & Matu Peoples’ Organisation, Block headmen with a group of people went inside to meet them. Block head men told them all the three blocks affected by the proposed dam are against dam. Vimal Bhai specifically asked Mr. Joshi of UPCB about the public hearing and told him how SJVNL tried to stop people in Deval town from attending the PH by not providing vehicles, so mostly people reached Kulsari, the site for PH, on their own expense, which cost nearly Rs. 60 per person. Mr. Joshi accepted that he was contacted by Vimal Bhai before, about the place of public hearing. Mr. Joshi said we are preparing letter of non conducting public hearing. He said that he have listened to every thing and will submit a report to the central govt., people have a right to oppose but what happened here is not good. (It is well known fact that even after the total opposition and boycott by the people UPCB never suspended the public hearing)

Why people have to disrupt the proceedings, why they loose their patience? It is a big question. Govt can not put allegation on people that they break law and order condition. This is the case of every environmental Public Hearing in Uttarakhand and else where also that even after all agitation and opposition by all the people, the pollution control board never stop public hearing. They made balanced report and project always got clearance mentioned above.

All kinds of violations happen in this PH process, no body knows about the environment Impact Assessment Report and Management Plan, no body has access to details of the project, no information is given to the affected people. Basic to detailed all facts are hidden from the people, no body knows the consequences of the PH process and clearance. Its only the learnings from the past experience which helps understand the destruction these projects would cause. Hence, people of the area were extremely angry, which resulted in a massive mobilisation and disruption of the PH itself.

Now SJVNL is putting pressure on the local administration and on the State Govt. to imprison 11 main people, against whom FIR has also been lodged, to crush down the anti-dam movement. They have also included 60 anonymous people in the FIR, so that they can catch anyone who create problem for them. These are the old tactics of dam developers to intimidate and oppress people. 

Some inherent problems with the project since its inception 

  • Since the very beginning of the project information, people have opposed the dam. 
  •  Matu peoples’ organisation informed the people about the farce in the process of public hearing.
  •  On 5th October a letter written by DSS/Matu/affected villager/prominent people was given to govt. registering their opposition to Dam and PH.
  •  We had also made our reservations clear to UPCB that PH place is too far. 
  •  Socio-economic survey was also opposed by villagers. Then how the EIA & EMP was done? 

Current situation

  •  A  F. I. R. has been filed against 11 people by name including Vimalbhai, Shri Gabbar Singh, Shri D. D. Kuniyal-Block headmen, Shri Yashwant - one journalist.
  •  Another 60 anonymous people. 
  •  Charges against 11 people are 148, 332, 427, 436, 504 IPC.
  •  Agitations are going on in the valley every day against these false cases. 
  •  A continuous Dharna (sit in) has also started at Deval Block from 19th onward.


  • Call C.M. of Uttarakhand Mr. Ramesh Pokhriyal 91+01352665722/91+1352665100
  •  Fax him asking not to falsely implicate people and put them in jail but to listen the demands of people and cancel the proposed dam project.-91+1352665722
  •  Show your concern to save river/people/environment
  • Come out with your strength in any other form.

Vimal Bhai  

Matu Peoples’ Organisation

Post By: arun