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Indigenous Lawyers' Association demands scrapping of hydropower project in Dibang Valley

The controversial Dibang Valley hydropower project will divert 1150.08 hectares of land, remove over 2.7 lakh tree

Indigenous Lawyers Association demands scrapping of hydropower project in Dibang Valley

Sentinel Digital Desk

Guwahati: On the occasion of the World Environment Day, today with the theme of 'Time for Nature', the Indigenous Lawyers Association of India (ILAI) urged the Government of India and the State Government of Arunachal Pradesh to cancel the Dibang Valley Hydropower project, the 3097 MW project to be developed by Etalin Hydro Electric Power Company Limited, a joint venture between Jindal Power Limited and Arunachal Pradesh's Hydro Power Development Corporation.

"At a time, the destruction of nature has been blamed for upheavals in the world including pandemic and green energy is being increasingly promoted, construction of outdated hydroelectric projects by destroying the nature must be abandoned", said Dilip Chakma, Coordinator of the AILA.

The Dibang valley project will divert 1150.08 hectares of land, remove over 2.7 lakh trees, which is expected to impact the rare flora and fauna species in the region. The critics of the project point out that it will further destroy the culture and heritage of local indigenous communities, particularly, the Idu Mishmi tribes in the region, he further added.

Apart from the exceptionally biodiverse Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary being the habitat of the tigers including snow tigers, in 2017, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) had recorded that project location preserves luxuriant forests and a plethora of flora and fauna, and about six globally threatened mammal species out of which three are endangered and three are under the vulnerable category.

About 680 bird species were recorded, which is about 56 percent of the total bird species of India. Out of the 680 bird species, 19 are globally threatened, 10 near threatened, four critically endangered, two endangered, 13 vulnerable species, and three very rare restricted range endemic bird species. The area is critical for the conservation of globally threatened bird species and the entire region falls under "the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management categories III and IV, Endemic Bird Area, Global Biodiversity Hotspot, and Key Biodiversity Area indicating its importance at a global scale."

The Forest Advisory Committee had also stated in 2017 that "The land in which the project is proposed is in pristine forests with riverine growth that once cut cannot be replaced." "There are attempts to re-write the findings of the FAC of 2017 which must be condemned. The Dibang Valley project must be abandoned to save the mother earth", said Chakma.

It is pertinent to mention here that uring a virtual meeting held on April 23, 2020, India's Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) deliberated on granting forest clearance to the controversial Etalin Hydroelectric Project but did not reach a decision.G

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