JAMMU, Jan 24: Asserting that the hydel projects have caused serious ecological imbalance across mountainous Chenab Valley, Member Legislative Council (MLC) Firdous Tak today sought focused and long term environment policy aimed at regenerating the forest cover in the region.
In reply to a question raised by him, the Legislative Council was informed that around Rs 432 crores have been paid by the Chenab Valley Power Project Corporation (CVPP) on account of forest compensation for the upcoming Pakal Dul Hydel Project to be constructed on river Chenab in Kishtwar district. The Government admitted that the compensation has been paid in lieu of the forest cover and land coming under the impact of the project.
Speaking on the issue, the PDP MLC said that the Government’s reply to the question had added to the apprehension of the people living in the area that the money generated for forestation was being spent in other parts of the State, while Kishtwar in general and Chenab Valley was getting peanuts for suffering devastation on account of development.
“This is surprising that we use the forest land and forest cover of the area to construct hydel project threatening the ecological imbalance. What is more shocking is that the money generated as forest compensation was not being spent in the area”, he said while pointing towards the figures provided by the Government in its written reply.
“Not more than Rs 15 lakh have been spent for carrying forestation activity in the area. We have lost the forest cover for hydel project, while as extraction of timber is also highest in the region”, he said, adding, “It was expected that a major portion of the funds generated as compensation from the hydel companies should have been used for regenerating the forest cover in the area”.
He said that the region has suffered massive ecological imbalance and devastation due to the ongoing and upcoming hydel projects and need of the hour was to have a long term environment policy for Chenab Valley in particular. “This is required as half dozen more such hydel projects are in pipeline in the area”, he said.