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Kinnaur landslide: People demand probe

Resentment of people against the JP Group,constructing the Karcham-Wangtoo hydro power project,has built up once again after Sunday’s landslide near the project site,when six persons were buried and two are missing.

Written by Hemlata Verma | Shimla |
February 16, 2010 5:31:42 am

Resentment of people against the JP Group,constructing the Karcham-Wangtoo hydro power project,has built up once again after Sunday’s landslide near the project site,when six persons were buried and two are missing.

People and local activists have demanded the government to conduct an inquiry into the irregularities in execution of the project as a result of which lives of people living in adjoining villages and labourers working at the site are at peril.

After the Sunday morning landslide at Kaksthal,in the evening another landslide about 3 km from the site,between Tapri and Wangtoo,brought down big boulders which fell into the Sutlej,blocking the water flow for a few minutes.

R S Negi,retired IAS officer and member of Karcham-Wangtu Sangharsh Samiti,said,“Lives were lost due to sheer negligence of the company. The workers colony was situated just below the area where work on tunnel alignment and surge shaft was going on. The land earmarked in the project proposal for construction of labour colony has been utilised for other works,which is against the norms.”

Palwinder Negi,another local activist,alleged that due to unscientific blasting at the site,the area has seen more landslides in the recent past and tremors have lead to cracks in houses. “I had filed an RTI application before the sub-divisional magistrate of Bhawanagar six months ago to know about the reports of seismic activity recorded in eight seismographs (to measure the intensity of blasting) installed in and around the project area but have not received any information till date. These seismographs have been installed in area but the administration also has no control over them,” he said.

General Manager of Karcham-Wangtoo hydro power project of JP Group,Brigadier S K Uppal,said,“There is no negligence on our part as the workers did not stay in an area designated by us and chose to stay independently in rented accommodation,where unfortunately they met with the mishap. The notion that any blasting caused the landslide is wrong. In the last one-and-a-half years no blasting has been done in the area and the last one was done at a distance of 800 metres from this site.”

The CPM has also alleged irregularities in project construction and has sought a judicial probe into the entire incident.

State Geologist Arun Sharma said Kinnaur and Lahaul Spiti areas have become more prone to landslides in the recent years,due to increase in the rainfall as compared to the past,which could be an outcome of climate change. The meteorological data of the past also shows the upward shift in rain here. “Not withstanding the recent landslide at Kaksthal,which requires study to find out the cause,the landslides in Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti are being triggered after rain as the loose soil strata starts sliding easily,” Sharma said.

“The soil in these areas is basically the moraine deposits,debris and muck which was once part of the glaciers and were left behind after the glaciers receded. Since rest of the earth surface in these areas is hard rock,people are staying on and along moraine deposits,which have tendency to slide due to rain seepage,” he added.

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