Pradhan of the Tulah gram panchayat in Jogindernagar, Ranjit Singh Chauhan, who is also a lawyer and Right to Information activist, has urged people to not to vote for any political party, alleging that “politicians never do justice to the public”.
Chauhan was expressing anger against the government and the Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited, which is the executing agency of the 100MW Uhl-3 hydropower project at Jogindernagar, for allegedly diverting the Local Area Development Aid funds released by the power project to non-affected areas under pressure by the local legislator.
According to the norms, the firm undertaking construction of the power project has to spend 1.5% of the total budget of the project on the development of affected areas.
However, Chauhan alleged that the construction of the 8.5km tunnel had dried up the natural water sources in the surroundings and a number of houses and cultivated lands had developed cracks in the gram panchayat areas of Kolang and Trambali, which were the worst-hit, and villagers were demanding suitable compensation, employment, alternative arrangements and resettlement of displaced people over the past many years.
He claimed that these two gram panchayats had not been included in the list of affected areas, and funds were diverted to non-affected gram panchayat Ner Gharvasara, because it was the home gram panchayat of the local MLA, and more than 40% of the total amount of LADA was spent to develop and beautify the area of the panchayat.
He added that information obtained through the RTI Act disclosed that `27 lakh of the LADA funds were diverted to development of Mandi’s streets, nearly 100 km from the project site.
“Roads, water resources, houses, cultivated lands and environment have been affected the most in the Tulah gram panchayat, but the funds are being used to maintain Mandi’s streets,” he added.