520 MW Nakthan hydropower project in Manikaran valley of Kullu district is facing religious roadblock. In Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL) feasibility survey, sacred Rudranag waterfall area, where deities from Kullu of other places come for their annual holy bath, is coming into it and therefore villagers and Kardar Sangh (body of local deities) are opposing it.

Manikaran Kardar Sangh president Hira Lal said that Nakthan is the last village of Manikaran towards Khirganga in Zanskar region and two km ahead of the village is Rudranag waterfall. As the survey proposes to have a tunnel to channelize water from a mountain opposite Khirganga passing close to Rudranag, deities are turning against the idea.

President added that “In one km area of Rudranag, we are not carrying out any digging work for centuries as the place is sacred to us. Now the project proposes a tunnel there, which is against the wishes of local deities. We have already conveyed our concerns to HPPCL and will oppose the same as deities themselves have rejected the idea of project in the area.”

Hira Lal said that in May, deities Kalinag and Rudranag had gone to the waterfall for taking holy dip and at that time, both deities reportedly ordered to oppose the project. As residents of Nakthan village are the custodians of the religious place, they have formed Nakthan Sangarsh Samiti to oppose the project. The Barsheni panchayat, under whose jurisdiction the area falls, has already decided not to give consent to the project and had rejected the idea in a gram sabha meeting last year. Last month, another powerful deity of Kullu district, Triyugi Narayan from Diyar village, went to Rudranag waterfall for holy dip and he too rejected the project. As deities are opposed to the project, villagers have adopted a resolution to give an ultimatum to the government to either scrap the project or change its location.

This is not the first time when deities have turned against projects. A mini-hydel project at Jogni fall near Vashisth in Manali has run into rough weather due to religious roadblock as deities were reportedly opposing it.

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