I pray to all my friends, brothers and sisters to not join the company in turning this valley into a monstrosity!” These are the powerful words by Narmada Devi from Village Padmallah that marked the flavor of a peoples' public hearing on the Devsari HEP.
This public hearing on the 3 April 2011 saw strength of 2000 people from all proposed Devsari HEP affected and surrounding villages of the Pinder valley. The hearing was organized by Bhu Swami Sangharsh Samiti and Matu Jan Sangathan and took place at the Sangam Maidan of Block Deval, Tehsil Tharali, District Chomoli, Uttarakhand. Public hearing at Deval was a peoples' response to the project proponent hearing at Chepdu on 20 January 2011.
In Chepdu the project proponent SJVN declared the hearing successful even though the public was not allowed to enter, take stage or express their views, but were instead barricaded from the hearing area. To reclaim their right to a fair hearing, around 2000 people, mostly women from the different Gram Panchayats like Sunao, Suna, Dewalgwad, Tharali, Pthani, Silodi, Pengadh, Chepdu, Kail, Talor, Devsari, Purna, Sarkot, Garhkot, Cheranga talla, Lausri and many others attended the hearing with banners and slogans, demanding that the Pinder river flow free! We want development not destruction. Several groups marched in from various corners of the hearing ground, all shouting slogans and bearing banners, one group brought a black banner as a symbol of their opposition to the dam project. Women from Kail village brought two big traditional water pots filled with Pinder River water. Many villagers brought medicinal plants to show the biodiversity of the area. They emphasized that the Pinder is the only tributary of the Ganga that remains un-dammed and they pledged to keep it so.
Mr. K. D. Mishra, founder member of Bhu Swami Sangharsh Samiti gave a warm welcome to all those at the hearing and began the proceedings!
Mr Dinesh Misra introduced the panel and explained the need for a peoples' public hearing. The esteemed panel consisted of Prof. Shekhar Pathak, Prof. Mehar Engineer, Prof. Sanjay Kumar, Prof. Sudha Vasan and Mr. Manoj Misra, and was welcomed by the local women who presented them with flowers and herbs from the Pindar valley. Prof. Mehar Engineer chaired the panel. People were invited to either speak to the panel or then hand in written submissions.
View below Bandh Katha 3 - A video series about dams on the Pinder river