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Acquisition process for Panang 289 MW hydel project is completely illegal, contends ACT

Posted by Ramesh Khati on August 4, 2009

‘Lands acquired under Panang project & Teesta Stage III cannot be said to have acquired for public purpose’

GANGTOK, August 3: The Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT) has today said that the acquisition process followed by Himagiri Hydro Energy Private Limited company and the Sikkim State Government pertaining to Panang 280 MW hydro electric project is “completely illegal” from the point of view of the land acquisition laws, company acts and rules.

In a recently issued press release, ACT general secretary Dawa Lepcha said they have “discovered” that Himagiri Hydro Energy Pvt. Ltd being a private limited company (with only three share holders, that too within the family) cannot request the government to acquire lands other than those needed specifically for labour colonies and related amenities.

“The lands needed for setting up of other parts of the projects cannot be acquired by the government for the said company. Since the entire lands needed by the company for Panang Project, has been acquired by the government on behalf of the said company, clear violation of the Section 44B of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, has taken place among others. Section 44B prohibits such action and proceedings,” Mr Lepcha said in the release.

He added that the acquiring of lands identified for colony in Lingzya near the proposed dam site is also in violation of the “Specific Condition” of the clearance letter of MOEF. When there was specific condition that no labour or staff colony will be allowed inside Dzongu, there was no need to acquire the lands that were identified for setting up of labour colony.

The ACT general secretary has at the same time pointed out said that the claims that the lands are being acquired for “Public Purpose” are in direct conflict with the acquisition laws, as not a single paise has been paid for compensation from the public revenue, which is mandatory for the acquisition to qualify as public purpose. “As per the law, whole or a part of compensation has to be paid / contributed from public revenue in case of acquisition for public purpose,” Mr Lepcha said adding “the 26 percent equity share that is projected is not part of the compensation”.

Interestingly, the lands under Panang project and Teesta Stage III and many others cannot be said to have acquired for public purpose because the entire compensation has been paid by the companies without a single paise contribution from public revenue. This, ACT believes is a blatant violation of the Part VII of L.A Act, 1894, especially in the case of Himagiri Hydro Energy Private Limited. The laws and rules are being neglected and mocked by the authorities, ACT general secretary said.

However, in this regard, ACT has submitted a memorandum to the State Chief Secretary to look into the matter and that rectification done before September 21, 2009, after which ACT will place the matter in front of the highest court of judiciary.

On other front it was decided in a executive body meeting held on August 2 that
ACT will form a separate grievance cell to look into the R&R implementation and the exploitation of the project affected people (PAP) and the environment of those areas where the project work have started, especially in the case of Teesta Stage III. This wing, it was decided, will be headed by ACT Vice President –II, cum Chief Co-ordinator Tseten Lepcha, the release said.

Source:Sikkim Express


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