Arunachal Pradesh farmers’ body rejects 10,000 MW hydropower plan on Siang River

The NITI Aayog proposed the project on the Siang River, one of three that meet to form the Brahmaputra in Assam downstream

March 26, 2023 12:00 pm | Updated 09:29 pm IST - GUWAHATI

The farmers’ body accused the Arunachal Pradesh Government of inking a deal with the National Hydropower Power Corporation for the mega-dam without taking the local people into confidence. Image for representation purpose only. File

The farmers’ body accused the Arunachal Pradesh Government of inking a deal with the National Hydropower Power Corporation for the mega-dam without taking the local people into confidence. Image for representation purpose only. File | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

Two Arunachal Pradesh-based organisations, including a farmers’ collective, have asked the State Government to scrap a deal for executing a proposed 10,000 MW hydropower project on the Siang River.

Flowing down from Tibet, Siang is one of three rivers that meet to form the Brahmaputra in Assam downstream.

Accusing the State Government of inking a deal with the National Hydropower Power Corporation for the mega-dam without taking the local people into confidence, Siang Indigenous Farmers’ Forum (SIFF) and the Indigenous Rights Advocacy Dibang (IRAD) threatened to launch a stir if the project is not scrapped.

Also Read | India plans ‘buffers’ in proposed Arunachal hydropower project to counter ‘China threat’

SIFF president, Tasik Pangkam said the Adi community in the Siang River belt will never accept the mega project that would threaten their existence and make them landless. He cited the example of the Chakma and Hajong people who were displaced by the Kaptai Hydroelectric Project in present-day Bangladesh in the 1960s and were forced to take refuge in India.

“Apart from submerging villages downstream and displacing the tribal people in Arunachal Pradesh, the 10,000 MW project will affect neighbouring Assam irreversibly. We have been fighting against mega dams for 13 years and will not give up easily,” Mr. Pangkam said.

He said the authorities should have consulted the people and organised public hearings before going ahead with the project.

Mr. Pangkam said he sought the help of global environmental agencies at the United Nations Sought Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights event held in Nepal a few days ago for pressuring India to scrap the Siang project.

IFAD member Ebo Milli, also a lawyer, slammed the State Government and NHPC for failing to disclose the cumulative impact assessment of another proposed dam — the 2,880 MW Dibang Multipurpose Hydroelectric project.

He advised the people to be wary of the government’s strategy of declaring a forest area as a wildlife reserve or a protected area in order to take control of the land and push environmentally-unsafe projects.

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