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The Indian Express : National Network


Tuesday, September 04, 2001  

Chipko villages oppose power project through Tehri forests


DEHRA DUN, SEPTEMBER 3: VILLAGERS who participated in the Chipko movement of the seventies are up in arms again as thousands of trees are reportedly being cut so that two corridors of high tension transmission lines to carry power from the Tehri Hydro-electric project to Meerut can be constructed.

Recently, villagers from Advani village in Tehri district protested against the felling of trees and stalled work on the transmission lines.The villagers were angry at the officials’ claim that afforestation has been going on in Hardoi and Jhansi districts of Uttar Pradesh to compensate for green cover lost in Tehri. ‘‘What is the use of planting trees in far off areas when villagers here are deprived of their forests,’’ asked Dhoom Singh Negi, a Chipko leader.

The villagers are demanding that the corridors be constructed through wastelands. They want financial compensation for farms ruined by the project and jobs in the sub-stations. Power Grid Corporation officials have visited Advani village after the agitation and assured villagers that their demands would be met.

The Power Grid Corporation has to cut out two corridors, each 95 metres wide, for the construction of the high tension lines. This means that thousands of pine and sal trees from a forest more than a 100 years old will be cut before construction of the corridors can be sanctioned. The power lines will carry 8 lakh KW of power.

Work on the second corridor, which will pass through Rani Pokhri in Dehra Dun district and through the proposed Rajaji National Park, has been going on.

Vipin Kumar, environmentalist and convenor of the Self-Help Environment Programme (SHEP), said the threat to the park’s animals from the high-tension wires has not yet been studied.

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