Opposition to 775 MW Luhri project on Satluj intensifies

Shimla: Opposition to the 775 MW Luhri project, a large hydropower project on Satluj River, intensified as people for within the project impact area have asked for stopping all geological testing activities being carried out in the region.

Leading the protest in Nanj panchayat, Nek Ram Sharma of the Satluj Bachao Jan Sangharh Samiti (SBJSS) said, “we will not allow such a project in our area as we have seen the outcome of large hydropower projects in the upper course of the valley such as Rampur and Karcham Wangtoo projects.”

Sharma along with many villagers his panchayat as well as from neighbouring Behna and Tebban panchayats on Monday served notice on the contractors in the project impact area doing test drilling and blasting have been asked to desist from carrying out these activities for it could dry up natural springs in the area and also cause damage to nearby houses.

We have also written to the state government as well as the central environment and forest ministry expressing our opposition to the project, said Sharma.

Dayal Verma, a resident of Behna panchayat in Kullu district and a member of SBJSS said, “general house of our panchayat has even passed a resolution for stopping all testing work.”

In accordance with Forest Rigths Act, 2006, no activity can be carried out without the consent of the concerned panchayat where it impacts the forest rights of the community and we have demanded that all project activities be put to an end as the community is opposed to such a large project, he said.

The 38 Km long with 9 meter diameter twin tunnels for the 775 MW Luhri project are to pass under a mountain area which have about 78 villages overhead and are being considered as likely project affected villages.

Residents of these villages are opposed to the tunneling of the Satluj on the pretext that it would not only destroy the farm livelihoods of a large number of people but would also completely devastate a 50 km long stretch of a free flowing river that is proposed to be diverted through tunnels for solely for generating electricity.

Given the opposition the project is facing in the area, a forest advisory committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) had deferred a decision of granting forest clearance to this project citing that provisions of Forest Rights Act – 2006 needed to be complied with first.

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