Shimla: The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes on Friday took a serious view of acquisition of private lands of people settled in tribal areas for upcoming projects and sought an explanation from the of Himachal Pradesh government on this.
Commission chairman Rameshwar Oraon said that directions have been issued to the Chief Secretary and other officials over violations of rights of the villagers.
"We have received a number of complaints from Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts and parts of Chamba district regarding discrepancies in giving land compensation to the locals, mainly by the hydro power companies," he said.
"The government is giving land compensation up to Rs 140,000 for one `biswa` land, whereas the private companies are giving between Rs 2,000 and Rs 18,000 for the same land. There is a huge gap...it`s the duty of the state to monitor it and take corrective measures," said Oraon, a tribal leader from Jharkhand.
The commission, currently visiting the hill state, has told the state government that it should protect the interests of those whose land is being acquired.
"It`s the duty of the company executing the project to provide alternate land to the affected villager. No one should be made landless," the chairman said.
Tribal villagers in the hill state have been voicing their opposition to the numerous hydro power projects that they say will further compromise their rights to water and forest resources.
The upcoming projects will not only damage natural resources and affect livelihood but also use up a considerable chunk of forest and agricultural land, argue locals and green activists.
The instances of clashes between local communities and project managements are becoming common in Kinnaur, Shimla, Kullu and Chamba districts. The latest incident took place last month when four functionaries of the state-run Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) were taken hostage.
The four, who were associated with the Asian Development Bank-funded 130-MW Kashang hydro power project in Kinnaur district, were released only a day later after the HPPCL`s assurance that most demands, including on compensation, would be accepted.
In Kinnaur, the 1,000-MW Karcham-Wangtoo hydro project, 100-MW Tidong, 195-MW Kashang, 402 MW Shongtong-Karchham and 100-MW Shorang are among the major hydro power projects under execution.