Arunachal dam
Representational image.

Guwahati: Two organisations in Arunachal Pradesh have urged the state government to withdraw a pact for executing the proposed 10,000 MW hydropower project on the Siang River.

Siang Indigenous Farmers’ Forum (SIFF), a peasants’ organisation, and the Indigenous Rights Advocacy Dibang (IRAD) have threatened to launch widespread protests if the project is not scrapped.

Flowing down from Tibet, Siang is one of three rivers that meet to form the Brahmaputra downstream in Assam’s Tinsukia district.

The two groups alleged that the Arunachal Pradesh government has signed an MoU with the National Hydropower Power Corporation (NHPC) for the big dam without taking the local people of the state into confidence

“The Adi community in the Siang River belt will never accept the mega project that would threaten their existence and make them landless,”  SIFF president Tasik Pangkam said.

He cited the example of the Chakma and Hajong people who were displaced by the Kaptai Hydroelectric Project in present-day Bangladesh in the 1960s and were forced to take refuge in India.

“Apart from submerging villages downstream and displacing the tribal people in Arunachal Pradesh, the 10,000 MW project will affect neighbouring Assam irreversibly. We have been fighting against mega dams for 13 years and will not give up easily,” The Hindu quoted Pangkam as saying.

He said the government should have consulted the people and organised public hearings before going ahead with the project.

Pangkam said he sought the help of global environmental agencies at the United Nations Sought Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights event held in Nepal a few days ago for pressuring India to scrap the Siang project.

IFAD member Ebo Milli, also a lawyer, slammed the State Government and NHPC for failing to disclose the cumulative impact assessment of another proposed dam — the 2,880 MW Dibang Multipurpose Hydroelectric project.

He advised the people to be wary of the government’s strategy of declaring a forest area as a wildlife reserve or a protected area in order to take control of the land and push environmentally-unsafe projects.

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