22 July 2017
Tanahu Hydropower Project affected communities have expressed concerns on the formation of local consultation forum as operational-level grievance mechanism for the project for lack of adequate mandate and effective representation of the communities. They have also planned further advocacy actions against the project, including litigations and complaints.
In a letter responding to the Tanahu Hydropower Ltd dated 4 June, two concern committees representing affected communities have welcomed the Project’s plans to form the mechanism with their representation. The local consultation forum is mandated to convey information about the project to the affected areas, settle the complaints of affected persons or families at local level and properly invest and utilize the compensation and redress amounts received from the project, among other tasks during the construction of the project.
The affected communities’ bodies have however called for expansion of the mandate of the local consultation forum to settle the complaints of the communities not only during the construction but also in planning of the project. They have also demanded to clarify whether the forum can settle the concerns about determination of compensation as distribution of compensation has already begun.
Working procedure of the local consultation forum is second area of concern of the affected communities, whereby they have called for effective representation of communities if decisions in the forum would be made through majority votes. Otherwise, they have called for consensual decision-making. Currently, the forum only has two representatives of affected communities in a 7-member forum.
In the letter, the bodies have also reminded about the 26-point demands of the affected communities and called for further consultations and discussions to address those demands.
Following the submission of the letter, the gathering of the affected communities’ bodies, on 17 June, has planned further advocacy actions with the project to push for addressing their demands. Their planned actions include submission of complaint to the grievance mechanism of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is co-financing the project as well as court litigation against inadequate compensation, among others. They have also formed the municipal and village level formations of the bodies.
Further, in a meeting with the affected communities’ bodies and representatives on 29 June, the Tanahu Hydropower Ltd in response to the letter clarified that the compensation distribution is under the purview of the Government authorities and hence not within the decisions of the company. Meanwhile, the meeting decided that the company and the affected communities would work together to use the social benefits funds of the project.
Read the unofficial English translation of letter of the affected communities to the Project on the formation of the local consultation forum here.