Ilam Protest Exposes Challenges of Balancing Hydropower and Village Needs

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ILAM, Dec 26: Local residents have obstructed the power generation of the Super Mai Hydropower Project at Mai Khola in Ilam, alleging that the project failed to meet their demands.

The agitating locals blocked the power generation of the project, located in Mai Khola between Soyang, Maijogmai Rural Municipality-5, and Sumbek, Ilam Municipality-2, from 11:00 last night.

A local, Suman Begha Limbu, said that the residents of the affected area, Maijogmai-5, stopped the power generation of the project by putting a barricade at the gate of the powerhouse. Begha accused the project of not complying with the prior agreement despite repeated talks.

The project had earlier agreed to mobilize an excavator for 30 hours for the maintenance of the Allekholsi-Sathimure-Pyang road via Simle, and to support the maintenance work of the road for up to 30 years. Additionally, the project agreed to provide a donation of Rs 500,000 for the establishment of the Endowment Fund at Purnajyoti Basic School. The agitating locals have also demanded the publicizing of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the project.

Begha said that their demand is for the project to mobilize an excavator for the construction of a seven-site football field in Mai Khola and to release water in the river according to the agreement reached with the government. “We will not allow the project to run until our demands are met,” he said. “The project has not followed the prior agreement, and we have been forced to stop production after our repeated legitimate demands were ignored.”

The project officials said that after agreeing to fulfill one demand, locals put forth another demand. Dinesh Kumar Bartaula, the chief executive officer of the project, said that they have agreed to fulfill the demands as recommended by the ward office.”We have already agreed to mobilize an excavator on the road for 30 hours, as mentioned in the recommendation of the Maijogmai Ward-5 office, and we will proceed accordingly. However, upon agreement, locals came up with additional demands. Is it feasible for a power project to carry out maintenance on any road for up to 30 years?” he asked.

 

Source : Republica