Close to 500 residents of Hangrang Valley and other areas of Pooh block Upper Kinnaur today held a rally at Kinnaur’s district headquarter Rekong Peo demanding immediate action by the Administration on the pathetic conditions of roads, especially, the National Highway 5. “NH-5, which is the lifeline of Kinnaur and the only road for residents to move in and out of the region has been in its worst condition ever in the last two years”, said Shanta Kumar, leader of Hangrang Valley Sangharsh Samiti. Representatives from 10 villages submitted a memorandum highlighting that the landslides, rock falls and slope destabilisation had occurred all over the roads and in villages due to the construction acitivity for hydropower development in the region. There are close to 25 projects under various stages of construction and operation in Kinnaur district alone on the Satluj river and its tributaries. Major landslides near these project sites are causing regular road blockage at several places like Urni ( (near Karchham Wangtoo project), Nigulseri *(Nathpa Jhakri Project), the stretch from Powari to Rally (Shongtong Karchham HEP) and Pangi (Kashang 1 HEP), to name a few.
An example is the famous and massive Urni landslide (near Karchham Wangtoo project). For the last one and a half year the administration has not been able to restore connectivity to nearby towns and villages as the road here (near Tapri) still remains blocked. The alternative road being used is too long. Locals complained that they have had to bear an extra carriage cost coming to Rs 20 for every carton of apple they took out of the area last season. With the Peas harvest season round the corner locals fear that they will have to bear severe losses if connectivity on NH 5 is not restored. People also highlighted that the number of vehicular accidents have gone up in the last two years. People suffering from serious illnesses are not able to get out for timely treatment, according to the memorandum.
“Tunneling for hydropower project using the drill and blast technique in a fragile region like the Himalayas seems to be definitely having geological and hydrological impacts both of which need to be assessed urgently. Kinnaur is the second most landslide prone district in the state of Himachal. This is also a highly seismic zone. Despite this the apathy of the government and the blind push for hydro is costing the local people”, said Prakash Bhandari of Himdhara, Environment Research and Action Collective
The memorandum demanding immediate restoration of the connectivity of NH-5, was submitted by Hangrang Valley Sangharsh Samiti, Him Lok Jagriti Manch, Karchham Wangtoo Sangharsh Samiti apart from signatories of 10 Gram Sabhas from the affected areas.
For more information call:
Shanta Kumar, Hangrang Valley Sangharsh Samiti, # 09418440767