This letter on the 3000MW Dibang Hydropower Project in Arunachal Pradesh to the Prime Minister of India was written by the Indian NGO Kalpavriksh in January 2008.
Subject: Laying the foundation stone of the 3000 MW Dibang Multipurpose project
January 31, 2008
Dear Dr. Singh,
This is with reference to an advertisement issued by the Ministry of Power in the Times of India dated January 31, 2008 indicating that you be will laying the foundation stone of the 110 MW Pare and 3000 MW Dibang Multipurpose project during your visit to Arunachal Pradesh today.
We are surprised and seriously concerned that you have agreed to lay the foundation stone of the 3000 MW Dibang Multipurpose project even though the project is yet to go through the mandatory environmental and forest clearance procedures of the Ministry of Environment and Forests of which you are also currently holding charge. The project is yet to be scrutinised by the Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley and Hydroelectric projects and the Forest Advisory Committee, which will be required as a part of the environmental and forest clearance processes respectively. The public consultation process is yet to be completed for the project too. In the first public hearing held for the 3000 MW Dibang Multipurpose project on January 29th in Roing (Lower Dibang Valley district), many local persons of the Idu Mishmi and other tribal communities have strongly opposed the construction of the dam due to its potentially serious social and environmental impacts.
Arunachal Pradesh is an ecologically fragile and culturally sensitive state and any such mega project coming up in the state requires thorough scrutiny in order to decide its viability from a social and environmental angle. The issue of the downstream impacts of this project in Assam also needs to be factored in. The Prime Minister of India laying the foundation stone of a project which is yet to receive mandatory clearances gives an impression that the project is being treated as a fait accompli, thereby making the mandatory clearance processes to decide its environmental and social viability seem like a formality. We feel this will seriously compromise the letter and spirit of the environmental and forest laws of the country and the constitutional protection given to the people of Arunachal Pradesh.
We strongly urge you not to lay the foundation stone for the 3000 MW Dibang Multipurpose project and any other project in Arunachal Pradesh in which the members of the public have not been consulted and mandatory clearances not received as yet. This is crucial to protect the long-term ecological and social security of Arunachal Pradesh and the downstream state of Assam.
Looking forward to your favourable response.
Neeraj Vagholikar/ Manju Menon, Kalpavriksh