The Himachal Pradesh CPM has condemned the arrest of tribal’s including 35 tribal women in Holi village in Chamba district. The party has asked the Election Commission of India to take cognizance of the matter and issue directions to the state government to immediately stop work at the 180 MW Bajoli Hydroelectric power project.
CPM leader Tikender Panwar alleged that the police have taken action at the behest of the management of the GMR Company which is executing the project smacks of the strong nexus in between the hydro power company and the police officials. This would certainly impact the ongoing election process and hence the work should be brought to a halt with immediate effect. The party has asked for immediate release of the tribal women who have been kept in illegal custody since last 24 hours.
The Panwar alleged that the forest clearance of the project has been awarded by the ministry without paying any heed to the gram sabhas which categorically and most vehemently rejected this project being constructed on the left bank of the river. Interestingly, the HP state electricity board had conducted the original survey which had located the project on the uninhabitated right bank of the river for the construction of the 15 km head race tunnel (hrt), surge shaft and the power house. However, the company executing the project shifted the project to the left bank of the river having dense forests and a population of 4 gram Panchayats of the area. This project work will severely affect the people living there and will result in deforestation, drying up of water sources and forced displacement due to blasting and leakage from the proposed hrt and the surge shaft.
The party has asked for a vigilance inquiry into the certificate / affidavit submitted by the then DC Chamba stating that there are no forest rights to be settled under the Forest Tribal Act 2006 over a 75 hectare forest land which is to be diverted for the project. Though, the same land is to be settled with the tribal people of the 4 gram Panchayats as per the act of 2006. Since the settlement is yet to take place the DC Chamba was very eager to submit a certificate that no forest rights are to be settled thus giving the Forest ministry a raison d’être to issue clearance to the project. It is this highhandedness that should also be thoroughly inquired into and if some kickbacks have been made by the management should be looked at.
The CPM has asked for maximum support against the despotic behavior of the district administration and demands immediate release of the arrested tribal women.