Arunachal Pradesh organizations take up dam issue at UN forum
Arunachal Pradesh organizations take up dam issue at UN forum

ITANAGAR: Representatives from Arunachal Pradesh submitted a memorandum to UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights about the 10,000 mw dam over the Siang river.

Representatives from Arunachal Pradesh, Tasik Pangkam, Bhanu Tatak and Ebo Mili attended the 4th edition of the United Nations Business and Human Rights Forum, which was held in Nepal capital Kathmandu.

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Pangkam represented the Siang Indigenous Farmer’s Forum (SIFF), while Tatak and Mili represented the Dibang Resistance and Indigenous Rights Advocacy Dibang (IRAD).

During the forum, Pangkam submitted a memorandum to Dr Pichamon Yeophantong, the chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. Pangkam spoke about the 10,000 mw dam over the Siang river.

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She emphasized the socio-economic anxieties for the future pertaining to mega dams over the Siang.

The SIFF president highlighted that the forum, over the past 13 years, has sent representations to the High Court, the Prime Minister of India, the Arunachal government, the Arunachal Governor, and the Human Rights Commission of Assam.

Tasik reiterated that the Adis of Siang cannot accept the 10,000 mw dam proposed in their ancestral territory, saying that it threatens the very existence and identity of the Adis.

Tasik implored the UN working group and other international environment and indigenous people’s agencies, downstream Assam and Bangladesh, and all concerned to help in opposing and cancellation of the 10,000 mw dam over the Siang.

Bhanu Tatak presented three cases of hydropower in Arunachal – the 2,880 mw Dibang multipurpose hydroelectric project (HEP), the 10,000 mw Siang HEP, and the recently cancelled in its current form, the 3,097 mw Etalin HEP.

She highlighted the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation’s (NHPC) “very bad track record and violation of indigenous people’s rights, especially in the states of Sikkim, Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh in the Northeast region of India.”

She spoke also about the 2,880 mw Dibang multipurpose dam and “the unavailability of its climate feasibility and downstream impact assessment report.”

Tatak expressed concern over why, despite the non-feasibility of such mega dams, they are still being pursued by the Indian government.

Touching upon the climate anxieties of the future, Tatak highlighted the Kaptai hydroelectric project in Bangladesh that displaced the indigenous Chakmas, who are forced to become climate migrants in indigenous territories of Arunachal Pradesh.

The mega dams in Arunachal in Lower Subansiri (2,000 mw), Siang (10,000 mw) and Dibang (2,880 mw), if sanctioned, have the potential to displace and imbalance more than one million lives in Arunachal Pradesh and downstream Assam.

She insisted that proper downstream impact assessment should include people from the Dibang and the Brahmaputra floodplains as project-affected families bear the cost of displacement and land insecurities, without any compensatory or remedial measures by executing development agencies.

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The United Nations South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights, which was held from 22-23 March, provided an opportunity for participants to discuss the challenges faced by workers and employees in Asia, and violations of human rights associated with it.

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