Rekong Peo: Scarred by freak rains and snow in June that also did wreck havoc in neighbouring Uttarakhand, highlanders from tribal Kinnaur have sought the district be declared a disaster affected area and asked for a moratorium on all damaging human activities.
“Twenty three people died, more than 20,000 cattle heads perished, over 1700 houses were destroyed, spare agricultural lands suffered enormous damage, rural road network is still severed at several places,” says Ranjit Singh Negi, convener Him Lok Jagriti Manch (HLJM), a local NGO, “the compensation offered is as per National Disaster Relief Fund, which is not practical for a difficult hilly area like Kinnaur.”
The NGO along with a Palampur based environmental rights group Himdhara after holding a meeting with the affected populace prepared a memorandum to be submitted to the Governor and Chief Minister demanding that Kinnaur be declared a disaster affected district because of the heavy damages caused by the June 15-17 rains.
The memo has also sought parity in relief compensation rates with that of Uttarakhand government which is three times of what the Himachal Pradesh government has provided.
The meet has gave a call for a moratorium on all to be constructed hydroelectricity projects in the geologically fragile landscape holding the intense construction activity in the ecologically sensitive zone to be responsible for aggravating the scale of the June disaster.
“Bhaba link road and Sangla link road had undergone serious damage due to the unplanned construction and muck dumping by hydroelectricity projects, says NS Chankhum, a resident of Ribba village. Condition of some roads in Pangi and Telangi Blocks is so grave that traveling on them is a risk to life.”
Cases of indiscriminate blasting causing damage to the ecology and resulting in drying up of drinking water sources like that in Rarang village were voiced at the meeting.
The memorandum has advocated survey of landslide affected areas by a team of Geologists, immediate repairs to the damaged areas as well as making controlled blasting mandatory for all road and hydroelectricity projects.