Rasyuna residents fear Pancheshwar dam will sink their village & a dream

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    DEHRADUN: The Pancheshwar hydropower project, a joint venture of India and Nepal, which is touted to bring “development” to the hills will not just submerge nearly 134 villages in Kumaon, but also crush the plan of people of a village who were choosing their own path of development by building a 1 MW hydroelectric project.

    People of Rasyuna village, on the border of Almora-Pithoragarh districts, had conceptualised the project a few years ago with the aim of creating employments for villagers by using natural resources available in their village. For this, a producer company ‘Saryu Hydroelectric Power Producer Company Limited’ was also registered in 2011 and a detailed project report, too, prepared.

    But sometime back, the villagers came to know that the proposed area of their project would be submerged in the 116-sq km lake of the proposed Pancheshwar dam putting an end to their hopes of self-development.

    Ram Singh, director, Saryu Hydroelectric Power Producer Company Limited, said, “We were busy fulfilling the required formalities for our project when we got to know that Rasyuna and the proposed area of our project would submerge. If Pancheshwar dam is built, then our dream of self-development will also be washed away.”

    Daulat Ram, a Rasyuna resident and member of the project, said, “The owners of our company are 30 families of this village. It was intended that by using natural resources found in the village, villagers could be provided employments in the village itself. It could also have stopped migration.” But, now, all our efforts will go waste.”

    Divulging details of the project, Swapnil Srivastava, an engineer who has been providing technical support to the project, said: “We had got a survey for the project conducted by engineers form IIT Roorkee and other institutes. The survey pegged the cost of the project at Rs 6 crore, which the company had decided to raise from bank loans.”

    Srivastava, who is also a member of Gandhian group ‘Azadi Bachao Andolan’, said, “The 100 families associated with the project will get Rs 12,000 per month. Such projects can be a major initiative in checking migration and providing sustainable development.”

    Uttarakhand Lok Vahini, a social group, which played a key role in the Uttarakhand movement, is also helping the project. Its president Shamsher Singh Bisht said, “After becoming a separate state, we have dreamt of a self-reliant Uttarakhand based on our natural resources. Rasyuna residents’ experiment is a step towards sustainable development of villages. But, Pancheshwar dam will submerge that dream.”
    On Thursday, third and final public hearing for the environmental clearance of the proposed Pancheshwar Multipurpose Development Project will take place in the affected Dholadevi block of Almora district, and people of Rasyuna are keeping their fingers crossed, because at the stake is their village and a dream.
    Source : TOI