ITANAGAR: The Siang Indigenous Farmer’s Forum (SIFF), which has been spearheading the anti-mega dam movement in Siang valley, raised the issue of the proposed 10000 MW dam over Siang River in Arunachal Pradesh in the recently held UN South Asia Business and Human Rights Forum in Nepal capital Kathmandu.
In a representation to the Forum, the SIFF sought ‘suggestions, guidance and inference in the matter so that the damages to the people can be averted with amicable discussion with the government.’
The forum said that it has been fighting collectively against the construction of the dam since 2013, when the MoUs were signed by the Arunachal Pradesh government.
“Since then we have been targeted, our members were harassed and threatened by the police and the authorities,” the SIFF said.
The project proposed at Siang Stage-II has been allotted to NHPC.
It alleged that the NHPC is forcefully conducting survey activities during the night time in spite of the strong opposition from the dam affected farmers and the members of the SIFF.
“They are also threatening to use army and paramilitary forces in the coming years,” it said.
The forum said it had earlier appealed to the Arunachal Pradesh chief minister, the then minister for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation Uma Bharati and then union minister Gajendra Shekawat.
The SIFF informed that it had filed a PIL at Itanagar Permanent Bench of the Gauhati High Court in 2014 and the case was disposed in 2022 in favor of the petitioners with an instruction to the state government that “in the coming future the consent and consultation must be sought from the affected locals for any such dam project.”
However, the authorities are not following the High Court Order,” the forum rued.
“The Siang River is the life-line for the people living in the Siang valley. It is the common property of the entire Adi population and some of its portion is the property of individuals and clans.
“Since time immemorial, it has been etched strongly in the psyche of the people and has become an essential part of the myth and mythology of Adi people.
“It is so entwined with the evolution of history of the people living in this valley that the name has found a place in the culture, history, folklore, folksongs and whatnot.
“Its cool climatic effect-fog, dew drops has greatly influenced the agriculture, horticulture and livelihood of the people.
“But the proposed construction of dams will inundate many villages and towns and render the poor farmers landless,” the representation read.
The SIFF said that the proposed dam, if constructed, will lead to large-scale devastation in the Siang valley and ‘any quantum of compensation will not suffice to rehabilitate the people.’
“There is also lurking-danger of wiping out the rich cultural heritage and history of the people in such eventuality,” it said.
The Siang valley is among the bio-diversity hotspots of the world. Inundation of large tracts of land will destroy a large number of rare species of flora and fauna, the forum said.