Modi’s assurance a ray of hope

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    Pancheshwar hydro project

    pancheshworBAITADI, Nov 15 : Shivadatta Thagunna of Melauli – 4 was greatly excited when the Indo-Nepal agreement on the Pancheshowar hydro-electric project was signed 18 years ago. It was stated in the deal that the detailed project report (DPR) for the 5,006 megawatt-capacity project would be prepared within six months.

    It has been 18 years since but there has been no progress on the project. People like Thagunna, who had hoped the project would usher in overall development in the region, have been sorely disappointed.

    However, thanks to the assurances given by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent Nepal visit, the locals of Baitadi, Dharchula and Dadeldura districts, which lie along the Mahakali river, have once again started to dream big. Modi has said that the project would be completed soon.

    “Though the deal was struck between two countries, it seems nothing can happen without India taking the initiative. We are hopeful once again… let´s wait and see,” said Thagunna.

    Thagunna´s village is still dependent on kerosene lamps for lighting. There is no proper road network in the area. Hospitals, schools and colleges are far away.

    “When the deal was signed, we had thought that our life was going to see real change. However, we have seen neither power nor roads materialise,” said Prakash Saud of Melaulai – 9. “But now there is a ray of hope at last,” he added.

    Due to the lack of transportation, people in Baitadi walk miles to get to market.

    “Pancheswor could bring change. But our generation has grown old just waiting,” said Harish Chandra of Shivalinga – 4. “Thousands of poeple are forced to live a difficult life for lack of basic infrastructure. If this project now proceeds as Modi said it will, may be we could have a road here and other facilites too,” he added.

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    Project to displace people

    While lots of people are waiting for the Pancheswor hydro-power project to see complete without delay, some others are worried about losing their lands. They are uncertain whether or not they would be properly compensated or resettled by the government. “We are going to lose a huge area of fertile land to the project. Many are going to be displaced. We do not know how this problem will be addressed,” said Narbahadur Chand of Lali village in Darchula. “We demand to be resettled in a proper location in the Tarai,” he added.

    Bhageshwor and Rupal villages in Dadeldhura, Pancheswor, Giregada, Rodidewal and Aamachour along with other villages in Baitadi and Lali, and Uku and other villages in Dharchula are likely to be affected by the project.

    Source : Republica