ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Pancheshwar Dam

Destruction in the Name of Development

Despite large dams being decommissioned the world over, the government has now set its sights on the construction of the Pancheshwar dam on the ecologically sensitive Mahakali river. Wary of being sacrificed at the altar of so-called “development,” resistance to the project has transformed into a concerted people’s protest, which continues to gain momentum.

This article is based on interviews with residents, stakeholders and protesters in the project-affected areas.

The fragile hills of Uttarakhand continue to face destruction in the guise of development, as construction of the Pancheshwar dam315 metres above sea levelis set to begin in the Kumaon hills, on the IndoNepal border. Without paying any attention to the consequential ecological and social impacts, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has given the dam a green signal, thus actualising the Prime Ministers promise to the people of Kumaon, made during his election campaign in January 2017.

While the MoEFCCs expert panel, in order to expedite work on the dam, has waived off the requirement of a joint mechanism to assess the environmental impact on India and Nepal, peoples protest against the project has intensified. The project will directly affect 134 villages and 31,000 households in Pithoragarh, Champawat and Almora districts, as well as many more indirectly, and will submerge 11,600 hectares (ha) of land (7,600 ha in Kumaon and 4,000 ha in Nepal). Of these, only 123 villages will be resettled (not rehabilitated) in make-shift camps, where those displaced will be forced to live in subhuman conditions. Villagers, fearing displacement, have begun protesting and have burnt copies of the detailed project report (DPR) that was recently made public.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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