GUWAHATI, April 20 – The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), has placed the proposed 4000-MW Etalin Hydroelectric Project (HEP) in Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh on the tentative agenda of its 83rd meeting scheduled for April 23 and 24 for reconsideration of the issue of environment clearance. However, it is alleged that this has been done without having the cumulative impact assessment (CIA) study of the project done.
It is feared that this mega power project will have adverse impacts on the environment of Assam, which is located in the downstream of the rivers of Arunachal Pradesh. There is a popular demand in Assam for consulting its people in the process of formulating and implementing all the hydel projects proposed on the rivers of the neighbouring state. Organisations here are also demanding completion of thorough CIA studies of the hydel projects proposed in the neighbouring state before going for their execution.
The EAC is also taking up for consideration the terms of reference (ToR) for environment impact assessment (EIA) of the 96-MW Sippi HEP proposed in Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh and the 96-MW Mago Chu HEP, the 96-MW Nyukcharong Chu HEP and the 96-MW New Melling HEP in Tawang district of the same state for consideration of their environment clearance, on April 23.
On April 24, it will take up the 74-MW Tagurshit HEP in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh for consideration of environment clearance, besides the Etalin HEP.
Meanwhile, leading environment activist Himanshu Thakkar of the environment group South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) has lodged a protest with the EAC against its placing the 4000-MW Etalin HEP on the agenda of its 83rd meeting for considering the issue of environment clearance without the CIA study.
In a communication to this newspaper, Thakkar said, “In Dibang basin, there is no cumulative impact assessment and hence clearing this second major project after earlier clearing the 3000-MW Dibang HEP would be in violation of the MoEF’s own norms. The issues we and others raised before the last meeting of the EAC, where Etalin was considered, has not even been acknowledged or responded to.”
Moreover, he said the three projects in Tawang basin being considered by the EAC are also being taken up at a stage when the CIA study of the Tawang basin has not yet been finalised in a credible and participatory way. Significantly, the Tawang CIA study has rejected one of these three projects and recommended changes in the others. Hence these three projects should also not be considered by the EAC since in the Tawang basin the EAC has already cleared the Tawang I, Tawang II and Nyamjang Chu HEPs, Thakkar said.