Hydel-affected locals seek compensation amid lockdown


Jajarkot, May 19

Locals of the area affected by the proposed Nalgad Hydropower Project in Jajarkot have demanded early distribution of compensation.

Citing the confusion caused by delay in distribution of compensation already released by the government, locals of the project-affected area have demanded that compensation be distributed at the earliest by adopting necessary precautions against coronavirus.

The government had released a fund of Rs 2.63 billion for relief distribution as early as the start of the current fiscal.

“It seems the distribution process has been stopped due to the lockdown, but we don’t see any point why the fund already released by the government has to be stalled like this,” said Amar Bahadur Singh of Wand No 8 Barekot Rural Municipality.

Chairperson of the rural municipality Mahendra Bahadur Shah also sought early distribution of compensation.

“It’s unbecoming of any company to sit on the fund meant to be immediately distributed among locals and benefit from the interest on the huge amount. Compensation can still be distributed during the pandemic by taking necessary precaution,” he reasoned.

Nalgad Hydropower Company Limited Acting Executive Director Ram Gopal Lagaju, however, refuted the allegation that the company was looking to benefit from the interest accruing from the amount.

“We’re ready to release the fund meant for compensation on our part once the district administration office says it’s ready for distribution,” he said, adding any bank interest accruing from the compensation fund will also be distributed as compensation to the beneficiaries.

On his part, Chief District Officer Janakraj Panta clarified that distributing the compensation amount during lockdown was out of the question. “As land revenue and land survey offices are shut, there is no way all the stakeholders can gather for compensation distribution, so it’s not possible as long as the lockdown persists,” he said.

Work on the project is under way even now though some sectors of the project have been affected by the lockdown and the consequent shortage of construction materials. According to the project, 150 families will be displaced, from acquisition of 6,000 ropani land.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 20, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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