Public Hearing at Devsari Dam canceled for Second Time, Environmental
Activist Vimal Bhai arrested*
*New Delhi, July 22, 2010* : Uttarakhand State Environment Protection
and Pollution Control Board today organised the second public hearing on
environmental issues regarding the construction of the Devsari hydro
electricity project 252 MW) on river Pinder, one of the main tributary
of Alaknanda River, District Chamoli, Uttarakhand. The first public
hearing had to be cancelled due to intense public opposition on 13th
October, 2009. Satluj Jal Vidhut Co. Ltd., a joint venture of Central
Govt. and Himachal State is the project proponent.
Today again nearly 2,000 people gathered from different villages who are
facing submergence and also many who are against dams on the holy river.
Since yesterday, the district administration had mobilised police force
sensing public opposition. Today after vocal protests the Public Hearing
was cancelled by the authorities.
However, in order to break the opposition and instil fear they arrested
Vimal Bhai of Matu Jan Sangathan who have been campaigning against the
big dams in Uttarakhand. Matu along with Bhuswami Sangharsh Samiti (BSS)
had written a letter requesting the Union Environment Secretary, Vijai
Sharma to cancel the Public Hearing. It is to be noted that back in
October 2009, the Public Hearing had been cancelled due to disruption at
the venue by the local people, and police had filed a F. I. R. against
11 people by name including Vimalbhai, Shri Gabbar Singh, Shri D. D.
Kuniyal - Block headman, Shri Yashwant - one journalist and other 60
anonymous people. The charges pressed against 11 people were 148, 332,
427, 436, 504 IPC. Later a continuous Dharna (sit in) was held at Deval
Block from 19^th October onwards.
Since, the authorities could not conduct the Public Hearing for the
second time they were miffed with the protesters, and arrested Vimal
Bhai. Medha Patkar, condemning the arrest said, "It is shameful that
Uttarakhand Government rather than respecting the wishes of the people
is hell bent on building the dam, and now that they are not able to
conduct the public hearings they have started falsely implicating the
activists. Vimal Bhai is a Gandhian activist engaged in non-violent ways
of protesting the take over of natural resources and unmindful
construction of dams on rivers in ecologically fragile zones for nearly
two decades now. To say, that he instigated crowd and engaged in acts of
rioting is completely baseless and he needs to be released immediately,
and all charges be dropped." Sandeep Pandey (NAPM), Kavita Srivastava
(PUCL) and Alok Agrawal of Narmada Bachao Andolan also condemned the
arrest and has demanded immediate release.
Vimal Bhai has been kept in police custody tonight at Tharali Police
Station, District Chamoli and will be produced infront of the Magistrate
at Gopeshwar tomorrow.
*Details of the last public hearing @
NAPM and International Rivers ask readers to write to the Chief Minister
of Uttarakhand and the District Magistrate of Chamoli District to call
for the immediate release of Vimalbhai. The addresses are as follows:
*Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank'
*37/1, Vijay Colony, Rabindranath Tagore Marg, Dehradun (UTTARAKHAND)
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