Cancellation of LSHEP public hearing evident as ToR negated

This is post by Azing Pertin of Stop Dams on Siang :
It happens only in India, and now it is happening in Arunachal Pradesh right under everybody’s nose. On August 3, 2010, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had granted Terms of Reference for the 2700 MW Lower Siang project to conduct EIA studies.

Amongst other things the MoEF had clarified that: “In essence the developers have to carry out a comprehensive study covering three seasons’ base line data for downstream impact study upto confluence with Brahmaputra river”. The project authorities- Jaypee Associates have completed a comprehensive downstream impact assessment over three seasons in three months flat! WAPCOS, a public sector enterprise under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Water Resources has prepared the Downstream Impact Assessment Report for Jaypee.

The MoEF directive of three seasons study will take almost a year but the company has done the impossible. So the pertinent question is how on earth can anybody look into the future and assess through the three different seasons then come out with a study on it? Did the project proponent Jaypee Associates hide the MoEF directions from WAPCOS and took a ride of all concerned?

Further, it is shocking to see that the Arunachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board has already announced public hearing for the 2700MW LSHEP on November 16th to be held on December 20, 21 and 22 at Jeying, Aalo and Pangin respectively. The cancellation of the public hearing for the LSHEP is evident as it violates the Terms of Reference which asked for comprehensive downstream impact assessment be carried out of three seasons not three months. A comprehensive EIA requires at least a year and cannot be wound up in three months treating the project as a fait accompli.

The flow data of Siang may be available for the full year with project developer, but there is no such data available for various other aspects and needs to be collected first-hand over a year (to cover all seasons). For example, understanding in detail the ecology and resource linkages in the Daying Ering sanctuary and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park (the impact on which has been asked to be studied) in all seasons. These parks are important Bird Areas, qualify the criteria to be declared as Ramsar sites (wetlands of international importance), and are home to species such as the tiger, wild water buffalo, bengal florican and gangetic river dolphin. The same applies to the social aspects, such as understanding in detail resource use by downstream communities in all seasons.

In the newly prepared Social Impact Assessment also the blind report prepared by the project proponent is highly condemnable and reflects utter carelessness for the people from the project area. The report has insulted the Adis of the project area by stating that Podi barbi is the major festival of the Adis of the area. One need not correct that Solung is the major festival of the Adis. When a project developer has such level of knowledge on the locals of the area, how can the locals and in this case the Adi people expect the project to exist?

The APSPCB has proved itself as a rubber stamp for the corporate interests time and again by going for public hearing without verification of facts. Earlier, when individuals and groups had appealed for the cancellation of the first public hearing of the LSHEP in May stating that the project had clearances for 2025 MW but not 2700 MW, the APSPCB undermining the complaints had gone for the hearing. But later on with complaints to the MoEF by the same individuals, the MoEF had directed the APSPCB to cancel the hearing stating the same reason. Then the APSPCB canceled the hearing stating that the weather conditions would not permit larger participation of the public in the hearings. But, the MoEF directions and reasons for cancellation of the public hearing was not mentioned by the APSPCB which evidently showed the incapability of the APSPCB chairman and member secretary. It also points to a growing nexus between the APSPCB and the private power developers. What can the people expect when the former power secretary TN Thongdok himself is the APSPCB chairman who leads the APSPCB with the member secretaries changing almost every quarter of the year.

The last word still remains that project proponent has clearly lied, cheated and now challenged the Adi people’s first right over the Siang by furnishing hollow studies for going ahead with the project clearly reflecting the corporate wantonness in pursuance of their interests. It is evident that a private company exists with the sole motive of profit, but for this profit can the Jaypee Associates undermining peoples concern go ahead with the Lower Siang Hydro Electric Project?

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