Padmashree awardees to go on fast unto death from May 20
The three awardess are- Avdhash Kaushal, A N Purohit and Leeladhar Jagudi. "This is ironical that Uttarakhand is facing acute shortage of electricity while the power projects of the state are being abandoned under pressure of Agrawal and other so called environmentalists," Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK), a city-based NGO, chairperson Avdhash Kaushal told reporters here.
"We request the centre and the Prime Minister to take a firm decision regarding construction of hydel projects and also for restarting the stalled power projects in the interest of the people of the state and the country. However, if the centre does not pay attention to our demand, we would sit on fast unto death from May 20," said another Padamshree awardee and famous author Leeladhar Jagudi.
Noted educationist and padamshree awardee A N Purohit also accompanied Jagudi and Kaushal. The social activists also said that they have decided to give back their padamshree awards to the government on August 15 if no decision regarding the projects is taken by the government. Kaushal and other activists also claimed that the scrapping of hydel power projects is also being opposed by the local people as the decision has not only deprived the people of the area from development but also snatched their jobs from them.
Stating that the per capita power consumption is an indicator of development of any area, Kaushal said Uttarakhand is among the backward states of the country, which had forced the people of the state to take to streets for the creation of separate state during 1990s. Agrawal, a retired IIT professor, went on an indefinite fast seeking closure of major hydel projects on the river Bhagirathi on environmental and religious grounds in 2008.
Buckling under the pressure of the fast of Agarwal, both the BJP government in Uttarakhand and the UPA government at the centre took decisions to scrap three major hydel projects, a move that gave a severe blow to the hydropower sector in the hill state. The three power projects were-- 600 Mw Lohari Nagpala, 480 Mw Pala Maneri and 381 Bhaironghati projects.
Agrawal later became Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand and again put a demand to scrap all hydel projects on the Ganga in the Garhwal region that also forced Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convene a meeting of the National River Ganga Basin Authority (NRGBA) on April 17 in order to decide the issue.