GUWAHATI, Feb 20 – The cumulative impact assessment (CIA) study conducted by the Central Water Commission (CWC) and the RS Envirolink Technologies Pvt Ltd on the Siang Basin is inadequate, alleged the environment group South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (SANDRP).
It alleged that the study has not mentioned the social and cultural impacts of the proposed project, nor has it mentioned the downstream impacts of the project on Assam areas in detail.
It needs mention here that 44 hydel projects are proposed on the Siang and together they will have an installed capacity of 18,293 MW. Of these projects, Upper Siang Stage-I, with an installed capacity of 6,000 MW, Upper Siang Stage-II with an installed capacity of 3,750 MW and the Lower Siang project with an installed capacity of 2,700 MW-are the largest ones.
SANDRP said Upper Siang Stage-I and II and Lower Siang are huge projects with direct impact on the downstream State (Assam). Even as issues of dam safety and risk assessment have gained high significance in Assam, as can be seen in the Lower Subansiri protests, the basin study/CIA does not include a word on dam safety, cumulative risk assessment, risk of landslips and landslides, seismic zones of projects, past earthquakes in the region, possible mitigation measures, disaster management, etc.
There is no assessment of baseline situation about disaster vulnerability of the region and how the projects will change that, said the environment group.
Further, it said the study has not done the cumulative disaster vulnerability, impact of project on such vulnerabilities, dam safety assessment and risk assessment.
The cumulative impacts of the project on several aspects have also not been assessed by the study, it said.
The critical recommendations made by the Expert Appraisal Committee on the River Valley Projects of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), like making it compatible with the similar studies done worldwide, suggestions about ramping to reduce downstream impacts, recommendation on free flowing length between two projects, cumulative impact on sediment regime, impact of road construction, etc, are not complied with.
The study has also failed to mention anything about climate change, reservoir emissions vis-a-vis cumulative impacts of such a massive scale, and how the projects would affect the adaptation capacity of the communities in the region in the context of climate change, said the SANDRP.
It, therefore, urged the EAC not to finalise the study without credible public consultations across the basin.