HCC pollutes water bodies, damaging forests in Bandipora

Government mute spectator

Pazalpora (Bandipora), Jan 5: The Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), which is executing the 330 Megawatt Kishen Ganga Hydroelectric Power Project in this North Kashmir district is dumping muck and debris at the non-designated sites, causing pollution of the water bodies, locals alleged.
 According to them, the Company had also erected tents for labourers and godowns on forest land without the approval of the Forest department.
 The people of Pazalpora, Kralpora and adjoining villages told Greater Kashmir that the Company has been dumping the debris and muck at various sites near Chandaji Forest, under the nose of the Forest Department. Moreover, the labourers are defecating in the open, polluting the famous Bonar Nallah, villages rued.
 “The pollutants emanating from the various units of the Company are drained into the Bonar Nallah which in turn pollutes Madhumati and Zaingair canal,” the locals complained.
 “We are being forced to drink the polluted water as the drinking water for our localities directly comes from these streams,” said an elderly woman, Zareefa Begum.
 The road leading to the project site, constructed by the Public Works Department, has also suffered extensive damage due the movement of heavy traffic, said the inhabitants of Kralpora, adding “the water supply has also been affected in the locality.”
 “We have written to the District Development Commissioner Bandipora several times about these issues, but nothing substantial has been done so far,” the residents complained.
 The Bonar Nallah is not only a source of water for residents living downstream at Pazalpora, Kralpora and other villages, but its water is used for the growing paddy in the nearby areas. “The Nallah irrigates thousands of Kanals of paddy land and is abounds with Trout fish,” the residents added.
 They accused the State Government and the Pollution Control Board for failing to act tough against the HCC.
 The Company has remained in controversy since it started work on the project in 2007 as the machinery used by it is causing incalculable damage to the environment and making life miserable for all sections of the people in the area, they said.
 “We are the worst victims of chemical pollution and the groundwater is getting contaminated,” complained Ghulam Muhammad of Kralpora.

 Accusing successive governments of supporting the work executed by the HCC, locals in the area said the representatives of people never paid heed to the pleas made by the inhabitants thus allowing Company to destroy the environment, ecology and biodiversity.
 They said few representatives initially raised voice against the project and its impact on the surrounding environment. However, they then started supporting HCC and National Hydroelectric Power Corporation due to reasons best known to them.
 “It is unfortunate that our representatives are supporting agencies like HCC and NHPC who are destroying the ecology and environment of Kashmir,” said a local Ghulam Hussain.
 Locals have raised questions as to why the project was sanctioned, as it involved large-scale destruction of Deodar and pine forest, putting the role of forest department under scanner.
 Villagers alleged that more than 20,000 trees had been destroyed in the project, but the Forest department allegedly turned a mute spectator and didn’t even file an FIR against the company. 

 The Divisional Forest Officer, Muhammad Maqbool told Greater Kashmir that the department had issued notice to the Company seeking damages in lieu of the norms flouted.
 He said, 500 Kanals of Forest land had been leased out to HCC for the dumping and storage purpose

 Admitting that the residue from the Main tunnel and Power House drains into the small streams, an HCC officer told Greater Kashmir that the muddy water coming out of the main tunnel do drain into the stream in the area. “This has created doubts among people”.
 “The residual tunnel water is not harmful. We request people not to be apprehensive of any outbreak of the disease” officer appealed.
Compiled by Suhail Ajmal

Lastupdate on : Thu, 5 Jan 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 5 Jan 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 6 Jan 2012 00:00:00 IST

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