Gurez residents up in arms against NHPC

Demand implementation of rehab plan for people, who will get displaced due to construction of dam

protestThe residents of Gurez are up in arms against NHPC for failing to implement rehabilitation plan for the locals, who will get displaced due to construction of dam in the area.
The locals working on 330 MW Kishen Ganga Hydro Electric Power Project (KGHEPP) are on strike from last one month demanding implementation of the rehabilitation plan.
Locals said four villages including  Badwan, Khopri, Khandyal and Wanpora will submerge owing to construction of dam over river Kishen Ganga (Neelam) near Kanzalwan village.
They allege that only two years are left for completion of the project but there is no plan for the rehabilitation of the people, who will be displaced from the villages.
The residents in these villages said they are facing a challenge of forced migration as they were unable to undertake any new construction from past three years amid strict orders from NHPC and the government.
“The displaced people be relocated somewhere near Srinagar as was promised to them at the time when NHPC took their land for construction of dam,” the locals said.
The villagers complain that they are being forced to reside in compact wooden houses as authorities have banned any construction in the notified villages.
“If we marry our son, he has no option but to migrate as he cannot construct a separate house or repair the existing one,” said Muzaffar Ahmad Lone, a resident.
The villagers demanded that people, who have married in last three years, should also be compensated as they have migrated to different areas due to ban on repairs of old houses and construction of new ones.
According to rough estimates, the project construction is affecting about 607 families out of which 135 are losing both land as well as houses. “50 families lose only houses while 422 families are losing the land”.
Five villages including Badwan, Khophri, Khandyal and Wanpora will get submerged in the dam.
The Power Project is being constructed at the cost of Rs. 3642.04 crores and is being executed by Hindustan Construction Company and NHPC.
Earlier, also people in the area protested against NHPC and HCC alleging environmental pollution and disturbances of biodiversity due to project construction.
The government had decided to relocate the affected villagers at Tragbal hills in Bandipora. However, officials said it has been decided to rehabilitate villagers near Shalteng Srinagar.
Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, Shah Faesal said it is up to state cabinet to decide about the relocation of the affected families.
“I had a meeting with Chief Secretary and am optimistic about the breakthrough soon,” he said.
Faesal said he will be visiting Gurez and talk to the locals. “We are hoping that strike by locals working in power project will end soon as government is going to speed up the work on the rehabilitation plan”.