Kullu villages boycott polls to register protest against mini-hydro project

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Vashisht (Kullu), May 5 (ANI): Residents of Vashisht and several other villages in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh have resolved to boycott the general elections on May 13 as a mark of protest against the construction of mini-hydro project, which they claim has usurped area of religious importance to them.

The hydro project, four kilometres away from Manali at Choyal Nala near Jogni Waterfalls in Vashisht village was sanctioned by the earlier State Government. It contracted to Water Millers Hydro Private Limited to execute the project. It was a Congress Party ruled Government.

The villagers say that they had shown the particular site to present state Chief Minister and even appealed to him to stop the project but their appeal fell on deaf ears.nd now the irate villagers have unanimously decided to boycott the polls.

"We had informed the Chief Minister in written statement asking him to stop the construction of the project as soon as possible since it's a sacred place for us. But it's been eight to nine months and they have not taken any action to stop it. Thhe villagers have decided that if the government does not listen to our demand, then we will not cast our vote," said Chaman, pradhan, Vashisht.

The residents argue that the project site is a sacred place and even humans are not allowed to go there and step on it.Further, the villagers say that they will not permit any political party to organise any kind of political meeting or campaign in the village unless they stop the construction."The government is not being fair with us. In the name of the development, the government is playing with places connected to our religious beliefs," said Murlidhar, a resident.

Meanwhile, Maheshwar Singh, a candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the general elections, said that the government must come up with a solution for the good of the people and the region.

"When you talk about boycott, this is a new thing which has come up recently. It's the duty and the responsibility of the government to come up with a compromise solution," said Singh.

Residents of surrounding villages such as Goshal, Mathiana and Koshala have also joined the residents of Vashisht in this crusade. By Prem Thakur (ANI)

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