The Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board will hold a public hearing in regard to the 750 MW-Luhri hydro power project coming up on the Satluj river in Mandi districts Parlog on August 9. Earlier,the Board did not hold a public hearing scheduled for May 5 due to protests by villagers,who had objected to the project quoting environmental and livelihood issues.
However,a confrontation between the villagers and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) the agency executing the project appears to be inevitable,as the Satluj Bachao Jan Sangharsh Samiti has sent a legal notice to the Pollution Control Board questioning the its environmental impact assessment (EIA) report.
The Samiti,alongwith some NGOs,have decided to approach the Himachal Pradesh High Court to seek its intervention and stop the Pollution Control Board from conducting the hearing. The project involves construction of twin tunnels of 9 m diameter,which will impact nearly 89 villages of Mandi district and 36 villages of Kullu district. But the EIA and environment management plan (EMP) of the project do not include any details about these villages and how they will be affected as a result of the construction of the tunnel, the Samiti alleged.
When contacted,Sushil Singhla,member secretary of the Pollution Control Board,said: The board is just a facilitator between the agency,administration and locals. The public hearing,to be conducted by the Mandi deputy commissioner,will be videographed. The locals are free to make their point at the hearing.