Green activists oppose Satluj Basin Study Consultation process

Jhakri: Environmentalists and green activists were up in arms, forcing their agenda of holding a cumulative environment impact study of the Satluj Basin to be held at Tehsil levels rather than the hurried process that the government attempted to push down.

“We do not understand what was the hurry to conduct this public consultation meeting at a notice of just four days,” said noted environmentalist RS Negi of the Him Lok Jagriti Manch, Kinnaur.

“The whole manner in which this consultation is being done has reduced it to being a farce that is being conducted to complete a formality in the process,” said Negi, who retired as an IAS officer.

River Sutlej in fury                 Pic Courtesy - Amit Kaushal
River Sutlej in fury Pic Courtesy – Amit Kaushal

The public consultation meet of the Cumulative Environment Impact study of the Satluj river basin was held here today and it witnessed uproarious scenes as other than activists project affected people did protest against the conduct of the meeting, being conducted at a short notice of just 4 days and that too without sharing the any draft study with the public beforehand.

The study is being conducted by Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education, Dehradoon for the Government of Himachal Pradesh.

Nek Ram Sharma of Satluj Bachao Jan Sangharsh Samiti pointed out, “There is no indicator that the consultants have determined the carrying capacity of the Satluj Basin or have included in their draft recommendations stretches of the river that should be left free flowing. Without such recommendations, the report itself would make no contribution to the preservation of environment.”

Registering his protest, Shyam Singh Chauhan, a member of the Mandi District Zilla Parishad said “We do not know whether the consultants have studied the impacts of the hydropower projects that have been already constructed like drying up of drinking water sources, impacts of blasting due to tunneling and road construction, impacts on agriculture and the loss of forests.”

had attended the consultation. Representatives from hydropower project affected public from areas as wide as Spiti, Kinnaur, Mandi, Kullu and Shimla districts  targeted the manner in which the projects were being constructed in the valley with indiscriminate blasting resulting in the drying up drinking water sources and hardly any water being released downstream of the dam sites.

Secretary (Multi Purpose Project and Power), Sh. RD Nazim, who was present on the occasion is said to have accepted the demand of the protesting organizations that the government would conduct tehsil level consultations before finalising the report.

Environmental organisations present at the consultation which included, Him Lok Jagriti Manch, Satluj Bachao Jan Sangharsh Samiti, Himdhara and Himalay Niti Abhiyan submitted their memoranda pressing for concerns about vanishing rivers and the environment impacts it was having in the Himalayas.

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