Himachal villagers to boycott panchayat polls

Monday, December 20, 2010

REKONG PEO - People in four villages of Himachal Pradeshs Kinnaur district have decided to boycott the panchayat elections to protest an upcoming hydropower project.

They are opposing the 1,000-MW Karcham-Wangtoo hydropower project, which is coming up, due to threats of environmental damage.

We (voters of Urni, Yula, Chagaon and Miru panchayats in Nichar subdivision) have decided to boycott the panchayati raj elections in protest against the Karcham-Wangtoo hydropower project, former president of Chagaon panchayat Anjana Negi told IANS.

She said no candidate had filed nomination papers for any post of the four panchayats, which have 3,326 voters.

Kinnaur Deputy Commissioner Sunil Chaudhary told IANS that no nomination was filed for the 22 wards in the four panchayats.

The three-phase elections for 3,195 panchayats in the state will be held Dec 28, Dec 30 and Jan 1, 2011.

Savitri Devi from Urni village said: We have decided not to exercise franchise for the zila parishad and block development council posts. This was the only option to draw the attention of the authorities to our problems.

Terming the government as insensitive, another villager, Amar Singh Negi, said: Cracks have surfaced in most of the houses due to indiscriminate use of explosives for tunnel construction. The project authorities are hell bent on destroying the fragile ecology of the area.

The 1,000-MW Karcham-Wangtoo, 100-MW Tidong, 195-MW Kashang, 402-MW Shongtong-Karcham and 100-MW Shorang hydropower units are among the various projects under execution on the Satluj river in the district.

Several areas where the projects are coming up are facing water shortage as most of the traditional water sources have dried up due to massive construction, said R.S. Negi, who heads the Him Lok Jagriti Manch, a peoples movement in the district.

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