Villagers in the district who have banded together under the banner of the Himachal Kisan Sabha (HKS) to seek compensation for their land acquired to install high voltage transmission lines from the Parbati and Koldam hydropower stations have decided to take their battle to the high court. They have demanded one percent of the income of the Parbati-Koldam Transmission Co, a 74:26 joint venture of Reliance Infrastructure and Power Grid, which is currently engaged in laying the overhead cables for both power plants up to Ludhiana, affecting over 3,000 villagers in Bilaspur district.
HKS president Rajneesh Sharma alleged the company did not opt to lay a roadmap before going for installation of towers on government as well on privately owned land. "Before laying transmission lines the company didn't go in for a proper acquisition process and the government department concerned didn't bother to take cognizance of the illegal process opted by them".
"Thousands of acres of cultivable lands of villagers were used to lay overhead cables to transmit 11,000 volts of electricity to both the Parbati and Koldam dams. This will not only endanger flora and fauna in the vicinity but also adversely impact the health of area residents. Though the company has shortchanged the villagers and the district administration didn't even bother to keep tabs on it. With political patronage the company used a pick and choose method. Some were given compensation to the extent of Rs 8 lakh for 11 square meters of land while others were given only Rs 70,000 for over five 'bighas'. The company axed hundreds of valuable trees without getting proper permission from the forest department," Sharma alleged.
He said the villagers had recently got a case under Section 156(3) for illegal felling of trees registered with the police. "It's surprising the department concerned didn't bother to save the state's forest wealth. Now we have decided to take the matter to the courts," he added.