Public Opposes Luhri Stage II Hydro Project in Himachal, Reject SIA Report

Location of Conflict

Nanj, Firnu and Kot villages in Mandi district; Bargal, Chamod and Talah villages in Shimla; and Dinghidhar in Kullu

,

Mandi

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Hydroelectric Project

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

1598

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

174

ha

State

Himachal Pradesh

Sector

Power

In 2010, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited had planned to construct a 750-megawatt hydro project, with a 35-kilometre-long tunnel connecting the villages in Shimla, Mandi and Kullu districts. But the local people opposed the project as it would have disturbed the ecology of the region, already prone to landslides. The project was later scrapped after the financer, the World Bank, withdrew its funding. The people demanded a smaller-scale hydroelectric project. In 2018, the state government commissioned three dams in the same stretch, namely Luhri Stage I (210 megawatt), Luhri Stage II (163 megawatt) and Sunni (355 megawatt). The project-affected families have opposed the Luhri Stage II dam and rejected the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) report prepared as part of the rules preceding the land acquisition process in December 2019. The SIA report, prepared by private consultants, does not talk about how the community is dependent on agriculture and forests, neither does it talk about the forest rights of the local people, which have not been settled under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. According to a news report, the impacts of the project mentioned were sketchy and half-baked and were conveniently drafted to get a green signal from the project-affected people. The copy of the report was not made available to public representatives like members of the panchayat. The people allege that they were not given sufficient notice and complete information related to the SIA report and the impacts of the hydro project prior to two public hearings, held in Nanj village on December 6, 2019, and in Firnu village on December 7. In both the hearings, people raised objections and called the SIA a "hoax" and requested the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) to declare the two public hearings null and void. They also demanded a fresh public hearing after the objections raised by them are included in the SIA and the discrepancies pointed out have been resolved. At the hearing in Nanj, the SDM accepted the flaws in the SIA and assured the affected community that the state government would not accept the report until all discrepancies were corrected and their concerns addressed in the report. The people have also made a list of other demands, which include a baseline study and data on commercial crops, diseases and productivity; compensation if there is any adverse effect on crops in future; a study on the current status of landslides in the area; compensation for losses in the event of landslides; and settlement of rights under the Forest Rights Act, among others.
Meanwhile, the survey work for the SIA report, undertaken in October 2019, caused landslides, which in turn damaged houses. The affected residents say the area is fragile and unsuitable for any kind of mega construction that involves the use of dynamites.

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

1882.9

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

174

ha

Starting Year

2018

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Sub-divisional magistrate of Karsog, Mandi district

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Abnaki Infrastructure Applications and Integrated Development Private Limited

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Resources Related to Conflict