Villagers from the tribal district of Kinnaur have demanded an immediate review of the policy of allotting fresh power projects in the fragile tribal belt of Himachal.

The tribals, who staged a massive rally over the weekend at Rekong Peo, headquarters of Kinnaur, said a great deal of environmental damage is being done by the private companies violating all environmental and tribal laws. “The Government is turning a blind eye to the interests of tribals and other stakeholders,” said the Joint Action Committee leaders. The Sutlej river flowing through the tribal belt of Kinnaur has a hydro-electric potential of at least 10,000 MWs and over 20 mega and micro projects have been sanctioned to private builders by the Government. The majority stretch of the river would be now flowing inside the newly-constructed tunnels while accentuating a big impact on the climate change. The private companies are involved in extensive and unscientific muck-dumping, uncontrolled blasting, reckless deforestation, encroachments and damaging various natural water resources in the area, alleged the tribal leaders.

Guman Singh of Himalayan Abhiyan Niti said the State Government, which is organising some mega conferences in Shimla on climate change, is not serious about allotting big power projects and dams near the glaciers which are receding.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal laid the foundation stone for another 100-MW Sainj hydel project at Matla in Kullu over the weekend.