Uttarakhand’s Lohari Village Submerged to Make Way for Vyasi Hydropower Project
With climate crisis and displacement issues from hydropower projects in Himalayas at the forefront, is government sowing seeds of disaster in fragile ecology of the region?
Lohari village in Uttarakhand’s Dehradun has submerged in the waters of the reservoir built as part of the 120-megawatt Vyasi hydropower project in the Vikas Nagar zone. The villagers received a 48-hour eviction notice on April 9, 2022. Two days later, the homes, farmlands and cowsheds were demolished by the tides of the water as residents of Lohari village looked on helplessly, with teary eyes and heavy hearts.
While the district administration said that it is making arrangements for the suitable repositioning of the villagers and adequate compensation for them, the painful moments of one’s life being uprooted will forever be imprinted on their memories. Some people were moved to a temporary shelter nearby, where they caught the last glimpse of their village as it was swallowed by the waters of Vyasi reservoir!
Gumani Devi, an elderly woman, said with a cracking voice;
Memories of all the marriage functions and other celebrations that took place in the village came back to us as we saw it sinking. It is hard to believe that the village is gone, that it is a thing of the past.
The village was swallowed by the part of the long-awaited hydel project that will play a crucial role in tackling the electricity necessities of the state. It has affected 77 families in the village. Several meetings were held with the villagers before the evacuation notice was served.
Dehradun District Magistrate R Rajesh Kumar said;
The process may take some time as we want to shift them to a place where they are not disturbed by any other upcoming hydel project in future. Villagers have suggested a piece of land measuring 8-9 bighas near their former village for their relocation.
Kumar also said that 80 percent of the compensation amount and house rent for a year in advance has been paid to the affected families.
Time and again, experts have advised against hydro project plants in the fragile ecosystem of Uttarakhand. Last year, after being put on hold for seven years, the Modi government decided to restart seven hydroelectric power projects in the Ganga-Himalayas, sowing seeds of a massive disaster.
Only time will tell how many more villages will get engulfed and how many villagers will be uprooted due to these anthropogenic projects.