Locals Oppose the Kashang Valley Project; Await Forest Rights Titles

Reported by

Lokendra

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

September 22, 2016

September 22, 2016

Updated on

September 22, 2016

Location of Conflict

Lippa

Kinnaur

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Hydroelectric Project

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

223

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

86

ha

Starting Year

2010

State

Himachal Pradesh

Sector

Power

The locals stand opposed to the Integrated Kashang Hydroelectric Project on the Kashang and Kerang streams in Morang tehsil in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. 
The 243 MW project came to Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) after being first proposed in 2002. The project is funded by Asian Development Bank, as a part of Himachal Pradesh Clean Energy Programme. The project is in four stages. 
Kinnaur is a Schedule V area, with predominantly tribal communities residing there. The locals have challenged environmental and forest clearances to the project in the National Green Tribunal (NGT). 
During Stage I, when residents of Pangi village challenged land acquisition for the project in court, HPPCL arrived at an out-of-court settlement with the affected people by increasing the compensation rate. HPPCL also paid Rs. 70,000 to each family to compensate for the diversion of forestland, which the locals had rights over.  
Now, the residents of Lippa and Rarang villages are resisting Stage II and III of the project. They demanded scrapping the plan to divert the water of the Kerang stream through a link tunnel to the Kashang stream. They argue that the water of the Kerang washes off the debris brought by the Taiti stream (a tributary of the Kerang) and that once the water of the Kerang is diverted, Lippa village will be buried under the debris. About 80 per cent of people in Lippa village own agricultural land and apple orchards in the area. Without the natural springs whose water will be diverted for the project, the local communities will not be able to cultivate in the cold desert area. The project could also pose a threat to the Chilgoza pine, an endangered tree species dominant in the area. The residents have alleged that the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006 has been violated and that the Environment Impact Assessment report is inaccurate. 
On May 4, 2016, the NGT directed the state forest department and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, to ensure that the entire proposal about the forest clearance is placed before the village assemblies of Lippa, Rarang, Pangi and Telangi villages. In September 2016, the HPPCL challenged this order in the Supreme Court. Later, the Himachal Pradesh government withdrew the case after pressure from the All India Congress Committee, which told the court that it was committed to implementing the FRA. 
According to a news report, in June 2017, CAG audited the records of the project. It found HPPCL in violation of several procedures, as it did not acquire the No Objection Certificates from local panchayats for the Stage II and III of the project. 
In August 2018, District Level Committee approved the Community Forest Rights claims of the Lippa Village. However, the state government still did not attain NoC from the village. Subsequently, the gram sabha filed a case in the high court. 
According to a news report, in October, the HPPCL representatives tried to “pressurise” the villagers, collected under the banner of Paryavaran Sanrankshan Sangharsh Samiti, to allow the construction works. However, the affected refused to give NoC as they were waiting for individual claims under the FRA. 
On January 7, 2019, the state High Court refused to stay land transfer for the project, stating that the petition has been sponsored by private hydro project proponents.
In May 2020, HPPCL filed for an eight-year extension of the environment clearance granted to the project in 2010. However, Himdara Environment Collective reasserted the “geological and ecological vulnerability” of the region. It took into view the landslide incident in April at the Stage I site to highlight the risks. According to a news report, over 1,000 activists, academics, and locals appealed to the ministry to not grant the extension, so that the construction of Stage 2, 3 and 4 is dropped. The process is still ongoing.
The tribal communities continue to raise alarm over the project's impact on the ecology, biodiversity, and livelihoods. Meanwhile, they also await their forest rights titles. The resistance also stems from concerns over increased risks of flash flood and landslide disasters in a geologically vulnerable region. 

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Refusal to give up land for the project

Opposition against environmental degradation

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Type of Common Land

Forest, Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

1828.58

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

2010

Page Number In Investment Document:

1

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Section 2[This section provides for the Restriction on the de-reservation of forests or use of forest land for non-forest purpose]
Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
Section 4d [This section provides that every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and customary mode of dispute resolution.] ;Section 4 e [This sub-section provides that every gram sabha shall approve of the plans, programmes and projects for social and economic development before such plans, programmes and projects are taken up for implementation]; Section 4 i [This sub-section provides that NoC from the Gram Sabha for diversion of resources towards development projects is a must] 
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 3 [ This section provides for Forest rights of Forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers, and under Sub section (2) proviso (ii) states he clearance of such developmental projects shall be subject to the condition that the same is recommended by the Gram Sabha.]; Section 4 d [This provision statesevery Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and customary mode of dispute resolution.]; Section 4 i [This section makes it mandatory to consult the Gram Sabha or the Panchayat at the appropriate level before acquiring any land in the Scheduled Areas for development projects and before resettling or rehabilitating persons affected by such projects in the Scheduled Areas ]
National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
Section 16e [This sub section provides for provision to appeal in case of an order made under section 2 of The Forest conservation act 1980 ]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

Yes

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

Claims for recognition of individual forest rights (IFRs) have been filed.

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Claims for recognition of individual forest rights (IFRs) have been filed.

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

Non-implmentation/violation of PESA

Violation of environmental laws

Controversial land acquisition by the government

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

National Green Tribunal (Principal Bench, New Delhi); High Court of Himachal Pradesh

Case Number

Appeal No. 28 of 2013 (NGT); CWP No. 53 of 2019

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

The key findings of the NGT were as follows: a) the concessions provided under section 3 (1) (a), (b) and (c) of the FRA are conferred as legal rights. Thus the rights traditionally enjoyed by the residents of the villages including Lippa village have been recognized under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 and the grant of approval for diversion of forest land without settlement under the Act was illegal. b) The diversion of the forest land is also in violation of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 in as much as Kinnaur district lies in Schedule-V area where the provisions of the Act applies. c) The Respondents No.1 and 2 shall ensure that the entire proposal pertaining to Forest Clearance in respect of Stages II and III of 130 MW Kashang Integrated Hydro Electric Project is placed before the Gram Sabha of villages Lippa, Rarang, Pangi and Telangi in Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh as prescribed under the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. With the above directions and observations the appeal was disposed off. The High Court declined to grant an interim stay on the transfer of the land. It appeared to the Court that the writ petition had been sponsored by private hydro project proponents. This suspicion was based on the petitioner earlier having approached the NGT seeking a stay on the same project. The Court directed the Vice President of the Paryawaran Sanrakshan Sangharsh Samiti Lippa, Tashi Cherring to file an affidavit giving details of the members, details of bank accounts, donations received, and the expenditure incurred in litigations by the Sangarsh Simiti.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Advocacy (for inclusion in courts)

Blockades

Campaigns (grassroots organisations/press releases/media)

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Development of a network or collective

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited, Forest Department

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Residents of Affected areas, Paryavaran Sanrankshan Sangharsh Samiti

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

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