Nahan: In a show of strength, the communities to be affected by the Renuka Dam held a public gathering at Dadahu bus stand, after declaring a bandh and a road block today. The demonstration, which had more than a 1,000 men and women, was addressed by several leaders and activists including Yogindra Kapila of the Renuka Bandh Sangharsh Samiti who gave the local administration a deadline to respond to the Samiti’s demands – land for land; compensation of Rs 25 lakhs a bigha and a job per family. He said there was no way that the people would allow the work to start or the dam to be built unless these demands were fulfilled. Satpal Mann, secretary of the Kisan Sabha, farmer’s wing of the CPI (M) lent weight to the demands of the Samiti. Researcher and activist Prakash Bhandari, who recently carried out a study of the socio-economic impacts of the project, said, “HPPCL had no right to start acquisition when they still do not even have their social impact assessment done and have no list of project affected families even”.
He raised a question on the very purpose of the dam stating that there were other ways to provide water to Delhi than destroying people’s lives and the environment and that no ‘cost benefit analysis’ had been carried out for the project.
Vyapar Mandal Dadahu chairperson Kulbhushan and the Pradhan of Dadahu, Mahesh Pradhan, lent full support to the protest and the market was kept closed for the morning and afternoon. Subodh Abhi of Jan Ekta Samiti, who along with the representatives of the area has filed a writ in the high court on the grounds of irreversible environmental impacts of the project, said that the symbol of culture, spirituality and ecological health of the area – the Renuka Lake and the forests around it – needed to be protected and should not be allowed to be destroyed by such a project. The case would come up for hearing in front of the Green Bench soon, he said.
The Sangharsh Samiti submitted a memorandum to the GM, KK Goel, of HPPCL, who assured that they would forward the memorandum to the government. The Sagharsh Samiti has given the government time till the 22nd of March. On the said date the Samiti is planning to have a demonstration at the DC office at Nahaan to register their protest.