FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
ITAGAR, Feb 28: Reiterating its demand for immediate cancellation of the proposed 10,000-MW dam in Upper Siang, the Siang Indigenous Farmers Forum (SIFA) has accused the State Government of intentiolly overlooking the sentiments of communities inhabiting alongside the Siang notwithstanding the concerns raised by environmental activists since the last one year over the proposed dam.
The Forum, which has been rigorously protesting against the proposed dam, expressed serious concern over its possible impact on environment and the social life of the people living in downstream areas once the dam is built.
Informing about the assurance given by the present government to solve the stalemate over the dam with power developers at a meeting held in December last year, SIFA secretary Tasik Pangkam resented that no action had been initiated so far despite passage of more than three months.
“It is unfortute that no elected legislators of the affected areas seem concerned about safeguarding the land and lives of indigenous populace despite knowing that its people would have to bear the brunt of environmental hazards once the dam comes up,” he said.
“If this dam is constructed, all living beings in the vicinity would perish,” Pangkam said, adding the so-called development project comes at immeasurable cost when considered in terms of displacement of lakhs of local populace, besides annihilation of forests, biodiversity and its fragile ecosystem.
Giving an overview of the project, Pangkam said that the proposed dam with 300-metre high walls would bury the whole district headquarters, Yingkiong, under water including the downstream areas in Assam, thereby displacing people from their ancestral land. He also sought a white paper from the government as to where it spent an amount of 200 crore out of 250 crore sanctioned by NEEPCO as an upfront or process fee for Stage-II of 3750-MW dam project at Upper Siang.
He claimed that the Forum possessed a copy of the challan receipt on payment of 50 crore which was deposited to the State exchequer in May, 2013 by NEEPCO regarding Stage-II the project.
Pangkam also alleged that the decision was taken without conducting any public hearing or constituting a social impact assessment committee. He said that the proposal was dropped by the previous government led by bam Tuki following stiff resistance by locals, but was again renewed by the present government for reasons being best known to it.
Affirming to go to any extent to save their land, Pangkam said that the government cannot force the project on tribals as the dam site falls in a tribal area and it is up to the people to decide whether to allow it or not.
He alleged without any prior intimation, the power developers attempted to run their trucks through peasants’ land and constructed roads to develop infrastructure for the project while adopting dirty tricks take the dam work forward. But they were later forced to stop the construction work after the locals intervened.
Further, disclosing that their application for an appointment with the Chief Minister also went unheard in the corridors of power despite several requests, a dejected Pangkam said that the Forum would fight toothand il and continue its protest until the government initiates steps to cancel the agreement with the power developers.