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Demand for moratorium on all hydro projects in Arunachal Pradesh following death of two anti-dam activists

By Our Representative
Coming down heavily on the May 2 police firing leading to the death of two anti-dam activists – Monk Nyima Wangdue and Tshering Tenpa – in Arunachal Pradesh, the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) has made this the occasion to demand a complete moratorium on all 250 hydro dams being planned in the North-Eastern border state.
The NAPM, in a statement, said, the hydro dams in Arunachal and the North-East are sought to be implemented without proper public public hearings and are based on “half-baked and unscientifically conducted Environmental Impact Assessment keeping communities often in dark.”
“The overall planning of hydro development in the state and Himalayan region needs a thorough examination keeping in mind the people’s interest first, until then put a moratorium on the planned projects”, it said.
The NAPM, which is led by top anti-dam activist Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, said, “When world over the big dams are being done away with, it is extremely unfortunate that we are till trying to harness the hydro power in the most environmentally sensitive regions.”
“Our own experience of struggle against the Narmada, Tehri, Waang Marathwadi, Gosi Khurd and other dams across the country have exposed the false claim of clean energy by hydro power projects”, the NAPM said, adding, “Big dams are destroying rivers, villages, townships, lives and livelihood of millions.”
Criticizing the state government's “apathetic” attitude in this backdrop, the NAPM said, “Even as Tawang district in Arunachal Pradesh continues to reel under the shock of police firing, state chief minister Kalikho Pul at ASSOCHAM forum in New Delhi in a complete insensitive statement has advocated for fast-tracking environmental clearances for hydropower projects.”
In fact, the NAPM noted, how the chief minister suggested “single window clearance to the hydro project developers”, which shows “complete contempt for the sufferings of the people and environmental destruction and concern for corporate profiteering.”
The death of two anti-dam occurred when hundreds of people were protesting against the arrest of Lama Lobsang Gyatso, one of the most vocal opponents of hydropower projects in the Tawang region and secretary of Save Mon Region Federation (SMRF), an organization of the Monpa Community in the Mon-Tawang region of Arunachal Pradesh.
SMRF, suggested the NAPM, is not the only organization which is opposing the hydro projects in Arunachal Pradesh. “The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) has been opposed to the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project, which would threaten the livelihood of more than five lakhs of fishworkers, farmers and others dependent downstream”, it said.
“It needs to be noted that even though a eight member expert committee report is awaited the construction on the dam has started once again, facing challenge from people”, it added.
Demanding an independent judicial commission, under the Commission of Inquiries Act, headed by a sitting or retired judge, to investigate the whole incident, including role of police officials, local MLA and other politicians, the NAPM insisted that the police officers involved, including the superintendent of police, the divisional commissioner and others should be suspended with immediate effect.

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