Features Friday, October 24, 2014 - 05:30
The news Minute | October 24, 2014 | 4 pm IST A power project in Arunachal Pradesh, considered to be the largest in India, is likely to submerge 5,000 acres of forest land and also destroy the habitat of creatures which are either not found there, or do not exist anywhere else on earth. The Dibang Multi Purpose project is expected to cost Rs 16,000 crore, submerge close to 5,000 hectares of land, and will require the felling of over 3 lakh trees. Its purported benefits include electricity and flood control in Assam’s plains. According to a report in The Guardian, the Environment Impact Assessment, which is mandatory for all projects of a certain criteria, is a botched up affair, liberally including fictional characters such as the brown pied hornbill. The Guardian report says: “For a project so large, the environmental impact assessment (EIA) failed to assess critical components of the project and was widely criticised for inadequately predicting the dam’s effects on the environment. Its evaluation of impacts on wildlife is a farce. The authors of the document list creatures not found in that area, such as Himalayan tahr, and concocted species not known to exist anywhere in the world, such as brown pied hornbill. Of the ones they could have got right, they mangled the names, referring to flycatchers as ‘flying catchers’ and fantail as ‘fanter’. The report also claims that exactly 301 people will be affected by the project. However, people have been protesting against the project since the foundation stone was laid in 2008.  One environmentalist says that the not just the Idu Mishmi and Adi communities of Arunachal Pradesh who will be affected, but also people living downstream of the project in Assam. The project had been rejected twice, and the new environment minister Prakash Javadekar had also opposed to project, but clearance was given after principal secretary to the government Nripendra Mishra wrote to the minister asking for “expeditious” clearance to the project.  The Guardian report says: “When he was a prime ministerial candidate, on 22 February 2014, Modi had said in a speech at Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh: “I know that the people of the state are against the building of big dams, and I do understand their sentiments. We can still tap those potentials with proper scientific technology and small dams, besides using solar energy to supplement them.” Either he had changed his mind in six months, or he never meant what he said then.”
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