Villagers demand resumption of power projects in Uttarakhand

A group of villagers, affected by the stalling of the Him Urja Vidyut Pariyojna at Nandprayag and Vishnugad Vidyut Pariyojna at Pipalkoti, staged a symbolic chakka jam on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway at Pipalkoti on Sunday, threatening self-immolation if the government didn't order the resumption of construction work there.

Unhappy with the government for first promising power and revenue generation opportunities to the affected villagers while taking away their lands, and later scrapping the projects at the instance of some environmentalists, the villagers — mostly women — threatened self-immolation if work wasn't resumed by May 10.

The villagers accused vested interests of trying to blackmail the power companies at the cost of the locals and wanted a CBI inquiry into the opposition to power projects.

Pushpa Devi Adhyaksh of Mangal Dal said that they had lost their homes, land and livelihoods to the project, waiting for electricity and employment, but were feeling cheated after the UPA government stalled these projects at the behest of ‘anti-India' forces.

“Is it that the Prime Minister and people in power can't understand our plight and hear only the dictates of people like G. D. Aggarwal or Maneka Gandhi,” she asked, adding that the Uttarakhandis were being ‘murdered' by outsiders sitting in New Delhi and elsewhere.

The villagers burnt the effigies of Professor Aggarwal and Maneka Gandhi.

It may be mentioned that the women and men of the Pipalkoti, Jaisal, Haart, Sen, Vaimro, Matha, and Bula, along with the local businessmen, have been staging a dharna , seeking resumption of work on the projects for more than a fortnight.

Avdhash Kaushal, chairperson of the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, and activists of the Uttarakhand Jan Manch, while lending support to the villagers, advised them to fight peacefully, without threatening to resort to violent acts like self-immolation.

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