Hundreds of people in three districts of Himachal Pradesh are protesting for the past three days against an upcoming hydropower project of Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVNL), but the company said the affected villagers will be adequately compensated. SJVNL deputy general manager Vijay Verma said the company will provide suitable economic benefits to the project-affected families on the pattern of its earlier projects.
Around 27 villages in Shimla, Kullu and Mandi districts will be affected with the commissioning of the 775 MW Luhri project in upper Shimla. Hundreds of villagers have been staging protests for the past three days and boycotted public hearings organised by authorities at different venues. SJVNL holds 51 percent equity in the project, while the state government holds the rest.
Activists protesting that the hydro project will have high environmental costs and around 38-km stretch of the Satluj river will disappear in some areas of Kumarsain tehsil and Nirmand. Project report shows that river water will pass through tunnels and that will affect the traditional water sources in the areas and they will dry up. If this scenario happens, it’ll have drastic effect to the environment. Water diversification will have direct effect on the agriculture and will also effect the apple production, for which Kumarsain is known for. Paryavaran Evam Gram Vikas Sansthan, a group of 20 villages in Karsog in Mandi district demanding 10% share as royalty from the project
SJVNL involves construction of an 86 metre high concrete gravity dam that will have capacity of 35 million cubic metres, from which 38.14 km long twin tunnels of 9 metre diameter would bring water to an underground powerhouse some 40 km downstream of the dam site.
Environmentalists are regularly confronting with the state government and had even write to union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh demanding a temporary suspension on environmental clearance to new projects in the state.