Protests by Kinnauri tribes halt hydro electric project in Himachal Pradesh

Reported by

Vivek Gupta

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Radhika Chatterjee

Updated by

Published on

July 25, 2022

July 25, 2022

Updated on

July 25, 2022

Location of Conflict

Jangi

Moorang, Kanam, Spilo, Aakp and Rarang village panchayat areas

Kinnaur

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Hydroelectric Project

Another reason tribes peoples are opposing the hydro project is the increased frequency of landslides in their region, which they believe is a result of such projects.

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

296

ha

Starting Year

2021

State

Himachal Pradesh

Sector

Power

In 2021 monsoon, Batseri and Neugal Sari areas of Kinnaur district, a notified tribal district of Himachal Pradesh, witnessed landslides in which several human lives were lost. The landslides had a spiralling impact on local tribal communities of Kinnaur who started a dedicated public campaign in August, 2021, to oppose new hydro projects. They blamed these projects for destabilising their hills and triggering these landslides. The communities also viewed these projects as causing ecological changes in Kinnaur's cold desert region, and impacting their agricultural activities and livelihood.

In 2018, the 804 Megawatt Jangi-Thopan Hydro Electric project was awarded to the Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), a public sector unit. The project is proposed on Satluj River near the village Jangi by creating a 157 feet (48 meter) high dam. As much as 143.2 hectare of forest land would be completely under water once this project is commissioned, revealed the project report.

However, the project was brought to a halt due to the protests in Kinnaur's Jangram valley, which began from 2021 onwards. The protests were led by the youth clubs of villages of six panchayats of Jangi, Moorang, Kanam, Spilo, Aakp and Rarang. As it is their forest and private lands on which the project has been proposed. Their campaign slogan 'No Means No' reflected their decisive refusal for the project. Their frequent protests forced the local administration to seek their feedback on an urgent basis through the gram sabhas of affected panchayats. 

The prior consent of villagers for implementing such projects is also mandated by section 41 of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 since Kinnaur falls under notified scheduled tribe area. The meeting for seeking this consent was fast tracked due to protest by villages. At the meeting, the village panchayats refused to give their consent to the project in April 2022.

Abid Hussain Sadiq, Deputy Commissioner, Kinnaur told LCW that none of the six affected panchayats was willing to give their no objection certificate for the project. “We have sent the factual report on the ground to the state government for necessary directions,” he said. A committee has been formed under the chief secretary of Himachal Pradesh to examine the report submitted by the DC Kinnaur.

Vikas Mahajan, general manager at SJVN confessed that the project could not take off due to resistance by villagers. "Even the preliminary technical investigation is pending, which is a first step for project’s execution. We are trying to dispel the misconception of villagers regarding this project," he said. "The project is likely to displace 175 households, for which a proper relocation and rehabilitation plan will be implemented," added Mahajan.

However, locals are not convinced. Jiya Lal of Himlok Jagriti Manch, one of the NGOs involved in the current anti-hydro project campaign, said that the problem is that their existence in the hills is in danger. He said there are several studies revealing that hydro projects weakened the hills and increased the frequency of landslides and flash floods. Besides, the diversion of river water dried up natural irrigation water channels and affected their agriculture production, the only source of living in the area. Locals also blame extreme weather events on these hydro projects too.  

As of July 2022, the project's implementation in Kinnaur valley stands halted.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand to cancel the project

Refusal to give up land for the project

Opposition against environmental degradation

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common and Private

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

5708.35

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

2020

Page Number In Investment Document:

13

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
Section 41 [In case of acquisition or alienation of any land in the Scheduled Areas, the prior consent of the concerned Gram Sabha or the Panchayats shall be obtained.]
Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Section 2 [Restriction on diverting forest for that deals with diversion of forest land for non forest purposes]
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 4(e)(i) [Gram Sabha or Panchayats to be consulted before land acquisition for development projects in Scheduled Areas] Section 4(m) [Gram Sabha or Panchayat to have the power to prevent alienation of land from Scheduled Areas and to take steps to restore such alienated land]
Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
Section 4(e)(i) [Gram Sabha or Panchayats to be consulted before land acquisition for development projects in Scheduled Areas] Section 4(m) [Gram Sabha or Panchayat to have the power to prevent alienation of land from Scheduled Areas and to take steps to restore such alienated land]
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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.

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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.

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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?

All six panchayats affected by this project refused to give consent to the project after Deputy Commissioner, Kinnaur, issued orders in wake of their consistent protest to summon their gram sabhas to take feedback from different stakeholders before proceeding with the project. The panchayats also objected on the grounds that the developer did not take no objection certificate from them under provisions of section 41 of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

According to Abid Hussain Sadiq, Deputy Commissioner, Kinnaur, a report detailing the factual position on ground was sent to the state government for further directions. This report has recorded the six panchayats' refusal to give consent for the project. The state government is yet to take final call on this matter.

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

No items found.

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

NA

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

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

No items found.

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

District Disaster Management Authority, Kinnaur, Forest Department, Government of Himachal Pradesh

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN)

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Deputy Commissioner, Kinnaur Vikas Mahajan, General manager, SJVN project

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

NA

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Local tribes peoples, village youth clubs of all six panchayats

Resources Related to Conflict

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

Image Credit:  

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Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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