Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, reiterated the resolve of his government to safeguard the interests of the hydel power project oustees and ensure them best of the relief and rehabilitation package besides implementing the New Power Policy of the state. This was stated by him to the state Chipko Movement Convenor Kulbhushan Upamanyu who lead a deputation which called on the Chief Minister here today.
Chief Minister said that interests of the affected people were dear to his government since they had been making immense sacrifices by giving their land and houses for the construction of the hydel projects which were being executed at different parts of the state to harness the natural potential for the benefit of the nation and its people where environment protection aspect was being implemented strictly. He said that the State had modified its Power Policy to incorporate more provisions for the welfare and development of the local people. He said that the hydel project Authority had been directed to offer the oustees good prices for the land it acquired alongwith best relief and rehabilitation package which also included developed modern colonies for the oustees, employment to atleast one family member in the project, training to start self employment avocations, preference in construction contracts of the project, spending 1.5 percent of the project on local development, releasing fifteen percent of the total water discharge beyond project dam for the survival of the aqua life and also feeding the water supply and irrigation schemes and above all for maintaining the ecological balance in the area. He said that all such conditions were being monitored and ensured that the local people were provided atleast 70 percent employment at all level in the project since there was no dearth of qualified and experienced people in the state.
Virbhadra Singh said that his government was prepared to generate less electricity than permitting environmental hazards. He said that the State had been blessed with immense natural beauty and wealth by the mother nature which needed to be protected, conserved and preserved at all costs. He said that his government had banned green felling way back in eightees as also use of recycled polythene bags. He said that people were required to obtain permission of the state cabinet to fell the aged and dried trees besides lopping the green trees. He said that strict action was being taken against the people involved in forest smuggling and causing damage to the environment.
Chief Minister said that state had vast hydel potential identified at over 21,000MW, one fourth of the total hydel potential of the country, which on full exploitation would change the development picture of the state. He said that the same was being permitted for exploitation after taking all related aspects into consideration, especially the environmental aspect.
Virbhadra Singh said that his government was committed to safeguard the interests of the people of Kinnaur where 1,000MW Karchham-Wantoo hydel project was being executed by a private company. He said that the MOD for execution of the project was signed during the previous regime and work started after his government took over the reins of the state in March, 2003. He said that the
project authorities had been directed to give best package to the affected families of the project and contribute towards social welfare, cultural, developmental and all other local interest activities actively by associating the local people with them. He said that the project authorities were duty bound to reconstruct the water supply schemes damaged due to the project activities, repair the houses damaged due to blastings etc. provide people employment and self employment avenues in the project besides maintaining cordial and friendly relations with the local people.
Chief Minister said that the area was bound to get benefited with the construction of the project as vast economic activities were taking place. He informed the delegation that he was the well wisher of the people of the state and protecting their interests was his prime duty hence the people of the district Kinnaur were required to rest assured that their interests would be safeguarded. He appealed to the people to cooperate with the government in maintenance of law and order in the project area besides extending their cooperation in successful execution of the project. He said that local problems could be settled by the people by taking up the same with the project authorities and the state government was also prepared to intervene where the project authorities failed to implement the agreement and interests of the people were at stake. He assured the people that his government was committed to safeguard their interests at all costs.