Locals of Phidim—Panchthar district headquarters—have objected the proposed alignment of transmission lines under the Kabeli Corridor Project, a high-priority electricity project under survey.

    According to the plan, the transmission lines will pass through four wards—4, 5, 7 and 9—of Phidim municipality.

    A stakeholder committee formed by 67 houses in the area dissented from the plan, saying their lands in district headquarter would be devaluated as people don’t want to buy the covered by the transmission line.
    The committee has warned of protests if the alignment is not modified. “This does not mean that we are against development,” Jay Prasad Rijal, the committee’s chairman, said. “We will launch protests if existing alignment s not changed.”

    Not only the transmission line, hydropower projects in the district are also facing problems due agitating locals. The 14.9MW Kabeli A Hydropower project is facing difficulties to complete its construction due to various demands put forth by the locals. Earlier, the locals had demanded rural electrification and road construction. An agreement to support local development was signed before the works started.

    Puspa Jyoti Dhungana, executive director of the hydro project, said the locals have already received support worth thousands, but they continue to come up with new demands.

    A suspension bridge built by British welfare was relocated five meter downwards to build a dam. The bridge was later damaged by a landslide. However, the locals are demanding reinstallation of the suspension bridge in the previous location. “The damaged bridge will be immediately repaired if the locals stop obstructions,” Dhungana said.

    The local administration has also filed charges against some locals amid increasing reports of violence in line with the conflict. The locals argue the projects like Hewa A, B, Kabeli Corridor and Kabeli B undermined indigenous communities’ rights.

    Meanwhile, the project promoters have accused locals of creating obstructions by putting forth unreasonable demands.

    Mountain Hydro Company’s Ganesh Subba blamed “wrong policies of the government” for the situation despite the project promoters’ efforts to take country towards economic prosperity and root out load shedding. “Rural areas have seen different development projects supported by hydropower construction,” Subba said. “The hiatus is a result of repeated demands made by locals.”

    Obstructions occur because of vested interests of parties and politicians, experts said. Time and again, the locals have also started conflicts in line with personal interests of political leaders. According to pro-project stakeholders, the conflicts only end after the completion of road, electricity, water and bridge projects.
    “Some issues persist because of uninformed locals, while others cause obstructions despite a clear understanding,” Puroshottam Ghimire, chief district officer said. “All necessary discussions should be made before operating projects to ensure transparency.”
    Discussions are being held at the local administration to resolve the conflicts, Ghimire added

    Source : The Kathmandu Post