Kinnaur youth up ante against hydel project

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More than 20 projects are in the pipeline even as four big hydro projects are still under construction…reports Asian Lite News.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has committed to a reduction of carbon emissions by emphasising various initiatives, including hydel projects, in the Glasgow Climate Summit, but the inhabitants of Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur on Sunday demanded an immediate halt on hazardous hydropower dams in the “fragile and overexploited” Himalayan region.

“We are concerned with this issue… there is global warming which requires action from one platform but the necessity for power is now going to be met by solar, and wind energy and in this, hydel projects are also being touted as ‘clean and green’. So we the youth of affected panchayats from Kinnaur have collectivised to send a message to the PM that bumper to bumper dams have been built in the Himalayan region and this has led us today to our struggle, not for electricity, but our very existence,” organisers of ‘NoMeansNo Campaign’ and Kinnaur and Lahaul Spiti Ekta Manch said.

“The unprecedented surface and underground construction have not just disturbed the rugged slopes but brought about irreversible land-use changes in an earthquake and landslide-prone zone, adversely impacting the lives and livelihood of the local Kinnaura indigenous community,” the protesters alleged.

They also claimed that the new spate of constructions is now planned in altitudes above 3,000 metres going up to the trans-Himalayas, a region that is reeling under the impact of the climate crisis, with glacial melts, cloud bursts, avalanches, and flash floods.

More than 20 projects are in the pipeline even as four big hydro projects are still under construction.

The fate of Kinnaur will be shared by the neighbouring trans-Himalayan district of Lahaul-Spiti where more than 50 projects with a capacity of 3,000 MW are planned on the Chenab River and its tributaries, the protesters said.

Now the tribal people are calling out this “illegal and mindless destruction” and saying #NoMeansNo.

“The gram sabhas of affected villages of proposed projects in Kinnaur have already passed resolutions to halt further hydropower construction. They are standing up for their own survival, to preserve their identity, their homeland. And we stand in solidarity with their demand for halting all future hydropower projects in this vulnerable Himalayan region which has been exploited well beyond its capacity,” protesters said.

“Our leaders need to think about this seriously and stop pushing these so-called ‘clean and green’ dams on us. A tiny district like ours is already contributing 3000 MW to the state now… this needs to be halted which is why we are demanding a ban on further hydropower in our region,” they said.

This area — Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti, has laws to protect its biodiversity, they added.

Himachal Pradesh has set up 10 large and 12 small hydropower projects amounting to an installed capacity of 3041 MW, along with 11 transmission lines in one of the most ecologically sensitive and geologically vulnerable Kinnaur district.

Recently, Himachal had witnessed many landslides caused by heavy and incessant rain. This monsoon, Kinnaur witnessed a spate of catastrophic landslides that took the lives of tourists as well as local populace.

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