The state unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has condemned the arrest of 25 tribal women in Holi village in Chamba district and asked that the Election Commission take note of the matter.
In a statement issued here, CPM state secretariat member Tikender Panwar said the EC should issue “instant” directions to the state government to immediately stop work on the 180MW Bajoli hydro-electric power project. “This action of the police at the behest of the GMR management, which is executing the project, smacks of the strong nexus between the hydro-power firm and the police officials,” he alleged.
He said it would impact the ongoing election process, so the work should be brought to a halt immediately. “We demand immediate release of the tribal women who have been kept in illegal custody for the last 24 hours,” he added.
Panwar alleged that the forest clearance was awarded by the ministry “without paying any heed to the gram sabhas, which most vehemently rejected” this project being constructed on the left bank of the river. “The state electricity board had conducted the original survey which had located the project on the uninhabited right bank of the river and recommended the construction of the 15km headrace tunnel (HRT), surge shaft and the powerhouse there,” he said.
However, the company executing the project shifted the project to the left bank of the river with dense forest and four gram panchayats. “This project will severely affect the people living there and will result in deforestation, drying up of water sources and forced displacement due to blasting and leakage from the proposed HRT and the surge shaft,” he said.
The CPM sought a vigilance inquiry into the certificates and affidavits submitted by the DC at that time.