[lang_en]Shimla: Himalayan Lok Jagriti Manch (HLJM) of Kinnaur today petitioned Governor Prabha Rau seeking her intervention in overturning a cabinet decision that had permitted take over of forest lands and have been handed over to a private company executing a hydropower project in Kinnaur.
Terming the cabinet decision as â€˜illegalâ€™ RS Negi, a retired bureaucrat and convener HLJM said, â€œthe government was failing the tribal people by usurping laws protecting their lands and passing them onto private companies executing hydropower project.â€
Speaking to the media after submitting the petition to the governor, RS Negi said, â€˜the state government in blatant violation of protection granted by constitutional scheduled areas Act had by a cabinet decision handed over 1650 bighas of forest lands to Jai Prakash Group of Companies that it executing the 1000 MW Karcham-Wangtoo project on Satluj river in Kinnaur.â€
The constitution has made a provision under V Schedule in which the Governor can directly intervene and by notification overturn Acts of Parliament or the state legislature, he said.
Negi quoted the V schedule provision, â€œActs of Parliament or of the appropriate legislature apply to the scheduled areas of their force, but the Governor has the power to exclude their operation by a notification.â€
While urging the governor to exercise the constitutional powers for protection of Kinnaur tribal lands, Negi said that tribal customary laws and legal rights were facing grave threats from executers of hydropower projects and the state government without taking the local community into confidence was in an unholy alliance with the project promoters.
Multiple power projects planned in the 150 kilometer stretch of Satluj in Kinnaur after it enters India at Shipki La was a threat to fragile environment and people feared being denied their livelihood means, he said.
â€œWe have even petitioned the High Court about our plight but have not got any relief so far,â€ said Negi.
Anand Sharma, of Human Rights Law Network who was also present said that Panchayait Raj law applicable to Scheduled Tribal areas made it mandatory to obtain permission from their respective gram sabhas where any infringement over their lands, or rights was needed for executing a project. â€œIn the case of Kinnaur tribals, this protection provided was being openly violated,â€ said Sharma.[/lang_en]