Protests against Kishanganga dam prompt authorities to impose restrictions on civilians

Residents accuse NHPC of paying too little compensation for land; attempt to stall ongoing work

 
By Soma Basu
Last Updated: Monday 17 August 2015

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State authorities in Bandipora district in north Kashmir have imposed restrictions on the movement of civilians around the 330 MW Kishanganga Hydro Electric Project (KGHEP) which is under construction.

The order came on the heels of protests by local residents who said that the compensation offered by the project developer, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), for their land is not enough. They had earlier said that if they are denied adequate compensation they would intensify their protests and sit on dharna near the project site.

On Monday, work at the site had to be stopped because of the protests. Abdul Majeed Malik, president of Village Welfare Committee, representing the affected people, said that not only the authorities did not pay adequate compensation, they also shut routes to fresh water sources. He said that the waste from the project is being dumped in the rivers and people are being forced to drink contaminated water.

The protesters issued a press statement, saying that a total of 38 hectares of land has been taken over by the project. Only Rs 40 lakh was paid as compensation per hectare. The land taken in Gurez for the project costs as much as Rs 1.20 crore per hectare.

A district authority spokesperson said the restrictions have been imposed “for the continuation of construction work on KGHEP and to maintain law and order around the project area at Kralpora Mantrigam”. District magistrate of Bandipora has issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC up to a distance of 100 metre from project site, he said.

Meanwhile, Central Indian Trade Unions (CITU) along with other labour organisations also held a demonstration, demanding employment for local residents of affected areas. The rally was led by union president Mehmood Ali who demanded that labour laws should be adhered to by the project authorities and minimum daily wages of labourers should be increased.

The KGHEP is part of a run-of-the-river hydroelectric scheme that is designed to divert water from the Kishanganga river to a power plant in the Jhelum river basin. It is located five km north of Bandipora.

Construction on the project began in 2007 and is expected to be completed in 2016. Construction work at the site was halted by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in October 2011 following protests by Pakistan, which said it would affect the flow of the river known as the Neelum in Pakistan. In February 2013, the Hague court ruled that India could divert a minimum amount of water for power generation.

 


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