‘Pancheshwar dam displaced to be resettled on irrigation department land’

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    DEHRADUN: Tourism and irrigation minister Satpal Maharaj said on Saturday that he will soon hold talks with UP chief minister Adityanath Yogito get land in Uttarakhandwhich is currently under UP government’s control to rehabilitate around 33,000 people who would be displaced due to submergence of their villages during the construction of the Pancheshwar dam hydropower project being constructed jointly by India and Nepal.

    Maharaj said that since Uttarakhand does not have “the required amount of land to rehabilitate the thousands of people who will get displaced due to construction of the dam,” he would “appeal to the UP chief minister to help in the resettlement process of the affected people by providing land of the irrigation department for this purpose.

    Last year in December, a comprehensive agreement on sharing of assets of the irrigation department — some of which are controlled by UP although they lie within the geographical boundaries of Uttarakhand — was reached between the two sides for the first time since the hill state was carved out of UP. As per the agreement, Uttar Pradesh Irrigation department was to hand over to its Uttarakhand counterpart 214 hectares land in Haridwar district besides 266 residential houses and two guest houses at Haridwar and Roorkee respectively. The UP government has handed over around 38 small canals to Uttarakhand but the management of water in these canals is still being looked after by UP. Most of the land is yet to be handed over to Uttarakhand, sources in the state irrigation department said.

    In addition, there are still many assets including water bodies and buildings located in Udham Singh Nagar district on which an understanding is yet to build between both the states.Reacting to the minister’s proposal, Shankar Khadait, a resident of Pithoragarh who has been leading the agitation of those who would be affected by the building of the dam, told TOI, “If we are to get resettled, it should be done in a proper and comprehensive manner. There should be proper infrastructure and facilities for good education, health and employment in the area where those displaced due to the project are settled. Since we would be sacrificing our homes where we have lived for generations, our sacrifice should not go unacknowledged.”
    The Pancheshwar dam being built on the Mahakali river that flows between India and Nepal is expected to submerge an estimated 130 villages in three districts of Kumaon — Champawat, Pithoragarh and Almora. The project has seen repeated protests from those who will be displaced.
    Meanwhile, Maharaj who met union minister of state for water resources Arjun Ram Meghwal on Saturday said that he had asked for an amount of Rs 579 crore from the minister to repair old irrigation works and build new ones in the state. He added that he was hopeful that “the central government will respond to the request favourably.”

    Seema Sharma

    Source: Times of India