“Black Spot” – a film made on the impacts of Vishnugad – Peepalkoti tunnels on Alaknanda river has been released as parts of efforts towards exposing the severe anomalies alleged by activists in the implementation of the hydro electric power projects on various rivers in the state.
“We have been ignored and treated merely as character to laugh at. The tunnel is being built beneath our homes in the village. How much damage will it do, nobody knows. The compensation for damage caused in the past by the project has not been paid so far. If we will protest then we will have to face the court cases. The court has made restrictions on people’s visiting the dam working sites. Now what to do?”, says Ramlal, a resident of Durgapur village. Durgapur village is the part of the village Panchayat where Dalit families reside. According to Vimal Bhai of Matu Jansangathan, the THDC company constructing the power project, is digging and constructing tunnels for the Vishnugad – Peepalkoti Hydro Power Project Power House. Cracks have already appeared on the walls of home located above the tunnels due to high intensity blasts reportedly carried out during the construction of tunnels. This has made the future more uncertain for the villagers.
The condition of the Harsari hamlet of Haat village is also the same. The people who are living in the other project affected villages are also facing the same threat and uncertainties. They are questioning as to what is the guarantee that everything will be secure once the projects will be completed. The tunnel of Vishnuprayag dam have already brought disaster in Chai –Thai Village after years where the company concerned had denied claims of any losses.
Another resident of the project affected village, Rajendra Hatwal says, “There has been no evaluation done of the impacts from these tunnels in World Bank fostered projects. This is the way of neglecting the much required expenditure on rehabilitation and other issues. We get the threats of arrest if we resist and protest in support of for our rights,” said Hatwal.
Narendra Pokhriyal said that he had been struggling for many years for the security of his village and to ascertain there is constant flow of water in the Ganga river but only got false promises and increased confusion. World Bank and State government is responsible for not providing the right solutions to the vital issues being faced here. The film “Black Spot” made by Media Collective tries to cover all these aspects. This Hindi film with subtitles in English is made by Hagen Desa.
Vimal Bhai states, “This film reveals the reality of tunnel projects through the issues prevailing in Vishnugad – Peepalkoti Dam affected area. At a time when there is planning underway to bind the Ganga – Yamuna – Kali – Saryu rivers and all their tributaries in tunnels, then this film reveals the grim realities and likely impacts in front of development planners, government agencies and financial institutions like the World Bank. We expect that they will learn a lot from this and bring subsequent changes in their attitude taking people’s and environmental issues on higher priorities. This film has been released by the villagers in Gopeshwar headquarter of Chamoli district,” added the activist.