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 HC closes PIL seeking compensation for people affected by Kishenganga HEP in Gurez

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Srinagar: The High Court of J&K  and Ladakh Friday closed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a direction to the Union of India to suitably compensate the people affected by the Kishenganga Hydroelectric Project constructed by NHPC, India’s national hydropower power utility, in Gurez Valley of Kashmir.

The PIL among other reliefs also demanded certain environmental safeguards for the area affected by the 330 MW project.

Chief Justice N Kotswar Singh and Justice Mokha Khajuria Kazmi, who heard the PIL, observed “under the circumstances and in the absence of any specific denial or material indicating a breach of environmental safeguards, we do not deem it necessary to continue with this PIL and accordingly, the same is closed.”

However, the bench made it clear that respondent authorities will undertake necessary steps in accordance with the law to ensure that no environmental damage occurs, and that if any impairment has occurred, the relevant authorities will take appropriate steps and actions as required by law.

The project, according to the locals, has damaged the valley by submerging its villages, destroyed their farms and grazing lands.

The petitioners directed that the authorities of the Government of India be commanded to suitably compensate the residents of the area affected as a number of their residential houses were damaged due to blasting during construction of the project.

It wanted the authorities to engage the uneducated youth of the project affected area “as they have been rendered without any source of livelihood”.

The plea also sought that all the records pertaining to the employment work force in the project be produced before the court.

It had sought implementation of the recommendations of a committee formulated in 2015 to address grievances of the inhabitants of villages residing in vicinity of the power project.

The petitioners sought that the authorities be asked to submit a status report before the court regarding pollution of the Bonar water stream at Chandagee, where construction material and other refuge was being dumped on the embankments.

The PIL also wanted to know the scale of funds which were required to be utilized for over-all development of the district as a result of construction of the project.

A report submitted to the court asserted that the project has been executed with utmost adherence to environmental safeguards and without causing any detrimental impact.

It said that in 2018 M/s HCC deposited Rs 34,29,900 as compensation for the damages caused to the structures in villages of Mantrigram.

The report underlined that environmental laws have been strictly adhered to, as the Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Committee on environmental aspects of Kishan Ganga Hydroelectric Project had visited the project sites several times and affirmed that the environmental laws are being complied with.


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