Malana Villagers In Himachal Up Against Hydropower Company

Shimla: Police on Monday used mild force to deter protesters from Malana Village from entering the power house of a hydro-project coming up near their habitation and detained 9 of them.

KK Indoria, SP Kullu said, “the 9 people detained on Sunday were produced in court today and have been remanded to judicial custody till 18th September.”

He said the though the villagers had been protesting for the last five days but on Sunday about 90 of them tried to force their way into the powerhouse of 100 MW Malana II, that is under construction.

The project is being constructed by Everest Power Company.

The police resisted the move and in the scuffle, some villagers and about 4 policemen, which included SHO sustained injuries.

Dile Ram, the Pradhan of Malana Panchayat said that the protest was organized against the hydropower company not providing any funds for development of roads, school building or improving health services in the local hospital.

The Pradhan claimed that about 30 persons were injured in the cane charge that the police resorted to.
He said the police had also arrested 9 people namely, Budh Ram, Bhagat, Chimu, Jagdish, Shiya Ram, Jayi, Balaku, Moti and Chiru on Sunday.

However, both Dile Ram and KK Indoria said that the issue of funds for development project was resolved today at a meeting with the deputy commissioner at Kullu.

Indoria said that about 100 people from Malana Village had come to hold the meeting with the deputy commissioner, who provided them an assurance that funds deposited by the constructing company with Local Area Development Authority (LADA) would be released for meeting the demands of the villagers.

Dile Ram said that the issue of funds for area development had been resolved and a compromise had been arrived under which the 9 people who were arrested would be released soon.

Environmentalist Manshi Asher, from the Environmental Research and Action Collectors, a NGO says that the government continues to use force against the Malana people who are being adversely affected by the project.

The villagers had protest last year also and held demonstrations between 15th to 20th April 2009, where after an agreement was arrived at under which the company was supposed to construct roads, paths, irrigation channels, hospital, Sarai, drinking water facility, provide free electricity and employment in compensation for the land acquired and for encroaching upon their water rights on Malana stream, says Asher.

But the company has failed to fulfill the agreement and Malana people were forced to stall work again,” she added.

Use of police force to intimidate communities agitating for their rights vis a vis Hydropower projects has now become a common phenomena in the state indicating that the government and administration was working only in the interest of the hydropower developers, and against the interests of its own people, said Asher.

Isolated for centuries, Malana village – high up in Parbati valley till recent years was notorious for producing ‘Malana Cream, which was counted among the best charas (dope) in the world.

Only in recent is it confronting modernity. A few years ago, a major fire outbreak had burnt down a large part of the village which included very ancient temples.

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  1. says: Kamal Thakur

    sad 🙁 Why do they need so much power!!!! Tourism is more than sufficient to feed such a small state if only our politicians had some brains!!

    1. says: ARYAN

      Thakur, the demands of the villagers are genuine, but it is true that state needs electricity to grow ecnomically. It is not just for Himachal,,, but to other states and states too. When this electricity will be sold in costly rates to the industires in neighbouring areas, Himachal will benefit economically. But at the same time, local people should not suffer

      1. says: Aashish Thakur

        I will agree with both of you some parts……It is right that Tourism is good but let me tell you it is not enough ..we have to harness power…….and Mr. aryan just forget about the benefits…you know they have this banking arrangement thing…..

  2. says: prashant ranjan

    I think we are missing the point here….v r not understanding plea of the ordinary people at all….its not that they may b against the electricity gen/growth of state etc but i think they wanna see what’s for them in it….n i think that ths make sense…afterall they are letting their resources to a comaony…I m sure that in turn they deserve to get something that can help in growth of their village…but would politician n leaders at the top be honest enough to let some financial aid flow down to grass root for growth of village…….u knw wht i mean??

    1. says: Aashish Thakur

      @ all The people…The place is nothing less than a gem…Its really a wonder….When you reach there it seemed as if you are in some place far from habitations….but projects like this will really kill the place of its serenity…..It seem the earlier project on the same stream was not enough for damaging the fragile ecology of the place……The administration needs to step in and so do the political establishment….cmm’on we can not let this beauty of place to just get sold out……

  3. says: Anil Chandel

    Although it is true that the state needs to encash the hydro potential for economic gains, but that comes at a huge cost to the local environment and the people affected by these projects.

    Case in point, the Bilaspur district lost its legacy to Bhakra Dam in the greater good for the region, and yet after so many decades, the issues of displaced population of Bilaspur still remain unresolved.

    Letting companies build these projects by ignoring the issues of the local population or by not enforcing the commitments made by such parties and the state is akin to selling out the state, in my opinion.

    In this incident, if the police account is to be believed, it was wrong to storm the power sub-station, in the name of protesting the wrongdoing by the company and government apathy on this issue.

    There were a lot of options available to attract attention to their problems, such as;

    1) Seeking representation via their local elected officials, MLA, MP etc.

    2) Bringing the issue to the world through media (unfortunately that happened only after this incident).

    3) Go to court, get the court to stay the project progress until the company honors the committments.

    4) Peaceful protests to garner public support, etc.

    At the same time, it wouldn’t have come to this, if the government was proactive towards enforcing such agreements and resolving the issues of people affected by such projects.

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