May 29, 2017
May 29, 2017
May 29, 2017
Jaiprakash Power Ventures Ltd, a subsidiary of Jaiprakash Associates Limited (JAL), started constructing the 400-megawatt Vishnuprayag Hydro Electricity Project in partnership with state-owned NTPC Limited and was the first public-private partnership venture in the state. The people affected by the project are fighting to protect their van panchayat rights as the company has acquired 5.08 hectares of their van panchayat. Van Panchayat, or village forest council, is a system of autonomous village forest, unique to Uttarakhand. The idea of establishing van panchayats originated as a conflict between the people and British authorities for control over natural resources. The system worked in a way where the villagers could elect a council of five to nine members whose head was the sarpanch. The van panchayat was empowered to regulate grazing, cutting of branches, collection of fuel and distribution of forest produce. The residents of 13 villages spread across five village panchayats -- Urgam, Lyari, Thainga, Bhenta and Devgram -- has refused to give up their van panchayat for the hydro project and are fighting to protect the common forestland from where they get their biomass like fuel and fodder and home-building wood logs. They have organised several dharnas (sit-in protests) at the offices of the company, district magistrate and sub-divisional commissioner. They have also submitted letter, memorandums and applications to the authorities, detailing facts and figures and appealing them to take appropriate action and compensate for the loss. Although the district administration has written to the concerned authorities, more than six letters have been ignored since 2016. But the people are determined to fight as the van panchayat is the fruit of their hard work and money, which they contributed from the MNREGA fund in 2015-16. "This forest is crucial for our survival and we will fight to conserve it," Raj Rajeshwari Devi, former village head of Bhenta village in Chamoli district, told LCW. "Now, women don't have to walk long distances in search of fuel and fodder, and we will not let the company take this privilege away from us", Laxmi Devi, a resident of Urgam village, told LCW. The project was mired in controversies after the 2013 Kedarnath floods. It was stopped for a while, but work resumed in 2015. A public interest litigation filed in 2015 sought the decommissioning of the project. In 2018, Jaiprakash Power was declared bankrupt, following which Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Energy Limited was in talks for a stake in the project, as per a news report. Meanwhile, the local people are still struggling to get van panchayat rights in Urgam village while on paper, their van panchayat is shown to be located in Salna village, which is outside the project-affected zone.
Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources
Complaint against procedural violations
Total investment involved (in Crores):
Type of investment:
Year of Estimation
Page Number In Investment Document:
Has the Conflict Ended?
When did it end?
Why did the conflict end?
Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict
Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute
What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?
Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:
Out of Court
Status of Case In Court
Whether any adjudicatory body was approached
What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?
Name of the adjudicatory body
Name(s) of the Court(s)
Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:
Whether criminal law was used against protestors
Reported Details of the Violation:
Date of Violation
Location of Violation
Nature of Protest
Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials
Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:
Nanda Devi National Parks sub-divisional commissioner
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:
Jaiprakash Power Ventures Ltd
Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?
Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict: