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The Hindu on indiaserver.com : Villagers stall work at Tehri dam

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Monday, April 23, 2001


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Villagers stall work at Tehri dam

TEHRI (Uttaranchal), APRIL 22. Scores of villagers, enraged by the arrest of more than 50 people, today stormed the Tehri hydel project site, stalling construction work at the 2,400-MW dam once again, police said here.

As the slogan-shouting villagers demanded the immediate release of the agitators, arrested earlier in the day, the district administration led by the Magistrate, Mr. Radha Raturi, held talks to persuade the villagers not to disrupt construction work stalled since March 30.

In a pre-dawn swoop, police took into custody over 50 agitators from the dam site where they had been staging a dharna for the last 23 days stalling work on the mega project.

``We are carrying out court orders to resume work on the Tehri dam. If villagers do not leave the area, we might use force to evict them,'' Mr. Raturi said.

The Magistrate, along with senior police and Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC) officials, were camping at the dam construction site.

``I have instructions from the Centre that the work must continue unhindered,'' Mr. Raturi said. ``The work which began early morning was stalled four hours after the agitating villagers stormed the project site.''

The Magistrate's instructions to the THDC to resume work followed Friday's Uttaranchal High Court order that asked the Government to resume work on the project.

A division bench of the High Court in Nainital also asked the Government not to carry out mining activities in and around the dam site on a petition filed by the Jai Prakash Industries which stated that the company was suffering losses daily due to the stalling of work by the agitators.

Environmentalist, Mr. Sunder Lal Bahuguna, who had been leading the campaign against the controversial project, had told the court that explosive material being used for blasting at the project site was creating environmental hazards.

- PTI

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