Courts Order Higher Compensation for Families Affected by Sawra-Kuddu Hydro-Electric Project in Shimla

Reported by

Bimla VishwapremiLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

November 9, 2021

Location of Conflict

Sawra-Kuddu

Shimla

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Hydroelectric Project

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

2818

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

98

ha

Starting Year

2007

State

Himachal Pradesh

Sector

Power

In 2015, the locals in Thana Plaun and Mandal villages, a landslideprone zone, opposed the ongoing construction of an additional edit tunnel for the Sawra – Kuddu Hydro Electric Project (HEP). The 111 Megawatt HEP is a runoftheriver project on the Pabbar river, a tributary of Yamuna, in the Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh. The work for the project started in 2007, and the Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) undertook the execution. It is a part of the Himachal Pradesh Clean Energy Development Program funded by the Asian Development Bank. The projects investment cost increased from the initial estimation of INR 558.53 crore to INR 1,165.10 by 2017, according to a 2014 CAG report, which also highlighted the possibility of the project turning commercially unviable.   In May 2015, the affected farmers, whose villages were underneath the tunnel, started to agitate and demanded an immediate ban on constructing the 424metre long tunnel. As per a news report, the local leaders allege that the corporation did not acquire a No Objection Certificate from the gram panchayat before starting the construction. A protesting leader from State Kisan Sabha claimed that the additional tunnel was being constructed rashly to achieve the deadline after multiple delays. There were also claims that the tunnel did not get an environmental clearance. However, the corporation refuted these claims. It stated that the tunnel would not affect the villages and had received the due clearances, according to another news report.  Following the protests, a representative from Thana Gram Panchayat filed an affidavit with the National Green Tribunal. They claimed that the houses in the village suffered cracks due to the vibrations from the blasting activities, and it adversely affected their apple orchids. The affected families also raised concerns over the drying up of water sources in the region, and the fear of soil erosion.  In July 2015, NGT halted the construction to investigate these claims.  Subsequently, on March 23, 2016, the NGT ordered HPPCL to compensate the households which suffered damage in 90 days, stated a news report. It also directed the state government to adopt necessary measures to protect the region, and avoid causing any further damages. One such directive was to formulate a committee to survey the affected area and recommend a revival plan for the water sources, which were drying up. However, NGT did not rule to stop the construction. Instead, it cautioned the villagers against causing any obstructions to the process.  Earlier, some of the project affected villages had also appealed in the Shimla High Court against the low compensation offered for the land acquisition from the eight panchayats. On October 12, 2018, the court revised the compensation rates and directed the corporation to distribute benefits to all the affected families, even if they did not approach the court.  As per the news reports, the project was finally commissioned in April 2020, after a delay of over seven years. However, many of the affected families are yet to receive compensation. A news report published in February 2021 noted that the directives given by the NGT were not followed through by the administration, and the households in Thana village continued to struggle for water supply.  In Thana village, only about 40% of the affected households had received compensation even after the HEP has started, Manshi Asher, a representative from the Himdhara collective, informed Land Conflict Watch. Based on her discussions with a local, she stated that the rest were yet to receive a final decision on the compensation, and the issue of dried water sources is still not resolved. 

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for compensation, Opposition against environmental degradation, Demand for promised compensation, Complaint against procedural violations, Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

1165

Type of investment:

Revised Investment

Year of Estimation

2014

Has the Conflict Ended?

Yes

When did it end?

October 2018

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Acquisition Laws, Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Procedural Laws, Environmental Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

  1. The Land Acquisition Act, 1894

    Section 4 [This section provides whenever it appears to the appropriate Government that land in any locality is needed or is likely to be needed for any public purpose or for a company a notification shall be published in the Official Gazette and in two daily newspapers circulating in that locality]; Section 11[This section provides for Inquiry and award by Collector]; Section 17 [This section provides for urgency clause which allows the government to immediately seize private land and offer adequate compensation later for any public work which is considered to be so urgent that even a little delay would cause damage]; Section 18 [This section provides for if any person interested who has not accepted the award may, by written application to the Collector, require that the matter be referred by the Collector for the determination of the Court]; Section 25 [This section provides that the amount of compensation awarded by the Court shall not be less than the amount awarded by the Collector]; Section 23 [This section provides for matters to be considered for determination of compensation];Section 54 [This section provides for appeal before High Court]

  2. National Green Tribunal Act, 2010

    Section 19 [This section states the Procedure and powers of Tribunal.]

  3. The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996

    Section 4 d [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]

  4. The 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 states 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 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 ]

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

Yes

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

No

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Controversial land acquisition by the government , Violation of environmental laws, Delay in compensation, Non-payment of promised compensation

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Himachal Pradesh, National Green Tribunal

Case Number

RFA No. 368 of 2014

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

No

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches, Advocacy (for inclusion in courts)

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

District Administration, Shimla

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

No

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Patel Engineering

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

No

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Bimla Vishwapremi

Reviewed By

Bimla Vishwapremi

Updated By

Bimla Vishwapremi

Edited By

Bimla VishwapremiLand Conflict Watch
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