Environmental activists and local villagers have questioned the proposed building of the World Bank funded 775 MW Luhri project by SJVNL in Himachal Pradesh.
â€œThe environment clearance public hearings for the project were organised from 5 to 7 May at various places of Shimla, Kullu and Mandi districts,â€ Manshi Asher a top environmental activist said today.
â€œWhile the first two public hearings saw stiff local opposition as well as objections by environmental activists, it was the hearing held yesterday at Theksu, Kullu which really faced the heat and had to be finally cancelled by the government,â€ said Asher.
The proposed Rs 4795 crore project involves construction of a 86 m high concrete gravity dam (with gross reservoir capacity of 35 million cubic meter) from which 38.14 km long twin tunnels of 9 m diameter will bring water to an underground power house about 40 km downstream of the dam site.
â€œThe reservoir of the project will submerge 153 hectares of land. Total land to be acquired is 290 hectares. More than 27 villages of 3 districts will be impacted by the project,â€ said Asher.
â€œLocals have been raising a lot of crucial issues relating to the impacts of this project.The disappearance of Satluj in a stretch of 20 km will impact local climate which is already facing the impacts of global warming,â€ Asher claimed.
Farmers in Kumarsain and Seraj areas raised concerns about facing a drought and their apple crop being impacted.
At the Kullu public hearing, Rakesh Singha, leader of the CPM presented his strong objections to all such tunnel projects.
â€œBut it was at Parlog, Karsog where the tunnel of the proposed project is to be built the real opposition unfolded. Around 1000 people gathered here on 7th May and shouted slogans against the project,â€ said Asher.
In a 20 year career published widely. He has worked for the BBC, AFP, The Statesman, IANS and the Business Standard . Known for his hard hitting writing and occasional off-beat stories. He lives in Shimla.