GUWAHATI, Sept 24 – Contrary to its pre-election stance, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), after assuming power at the Centre, is seemingly in a hurry to get the proposed mega hydel power projects of the NE region executed. The BJP-led Government at the Centre is mounting pressure on the statutory authorities to accord clearances to these mega hydel projects without bothering to assess about their downstream impact. These projects are feared to have severe adverse impacts on Assam.
The hastiness of the BJP-led Central Government in this respect has become clear with its placing the 3000-MW Dibang Multipurpose Project in Arunachal Pradesh as item number 2.1 on the agenda for the 77th meeting of the Expert Apprisal Committee for River Valley and Hydroelectric Power Projects for ‘reconsideration’ of the issue of environment clearance. This meeting was held on September 16 and 17.
This was followed by the placing of the issue of diversion of 5056.50 hectares of forest land in favour of M/s NHPC for construction of the Dibang project on the agenda of the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) meeting convened on September 22 and 23.
But, significantly, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (FC Division) on August 28 last had told the Arunachal Pradesh Government in a communication, signed by Assistant Inspector General of Forests M Rajkumar, that the Ministry after examining the recommendations of the FAC had rejected the proposal for diversion of 5056.50 hectares of forest land in favour of M/s NHPC for construction of the Dibang Multipurpose project.
The letter had stated, “…the committee has recommended rejection of the proposal on the ground that the proposed area is very rich in biodiversity, sensitive ecosystem being at the edge of hills and flood plains and having large number of endemic and endangered flora and fauna, etc. Moreover, such a project is most likely to have considerable downstream impact including impact on the Dibru-Saikhowa NP (National Park) in Assam which is yet to be studied.”
What has stunned the observers here is the fact that Narendra Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP had said at a Pasighat rally on February 22, 2014, that honouring the sentiments of the region’s people against large dams he opted for smaller hydel projects in the region.
It is pertinent to mention here that Assam Power Minister, Pradyut Bordoloi, while taking part in a conference of power ministers in New Delhi, had on September 9, lodged a protest against the construction of dams in the upstream areas without assessing their downstream impact.