Four officials taken hostage by Himachal villagers freed (Lead)

June 23rd, 2011 - 12:58 am ICT by IANS  

Shimla, June 22 (IANS) Four government functionaries associated with a mega hydropower project in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district were taken hostage by villagers protesting over environmental issues and released after a day in captivity Wednesday, officials said.

The protesters were demanding acceptance of their demands by state-run Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) executing a mega run-of-the-river hydropower project on a Satluj tributary.

“All the four government functionaries, including three senior officials of the HPPCL who were kept under house arrest by villagers since Tuesday, were released on the HPPCL’s assurance that most of their demands would be accepted,” Sub-Divisional Magistrate Naresh Thakur told IANS over phone.

He said the villagers demands included grant of construction contracts to locals and steps to prevent deterioration of environment.

The project of 130 MW is called Kashang hydropower project. It is being made on Kashang rivulet, some 275 km from state capital Shimla, and is being funded by the Asian Development Bank.

HPPCL General Manager S.P. Gupta said the released hostages included project’s Executive Engineer C.L. Dhiman along with a senior research fellow of the Himachal Pradesh University. They had been kept in captivity at the ‘panchayat ghar’ in Pangi village, the second largest in the district with a population of over 2,500 people.

The ministry of environment and forests has already granted an environmental clearance to the project.

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