India is home to numerous dams as the nation relies on artificial water bodies to cater to the increasing water and electricity demands of commercial, domestic, agricultural and industrial sectors. In order to cope with the annual floods, the Indian Government came up with an ambitious project in 2008,which looks at developing a multi-purpose project in Dibang valley in Arunachal Pradesh.
What is the Dibang Multi-Purpose Project ?
The dam which is to be constructed, will be done over the Dibang river which originates from Tibet and then forms a part of the Bramhaputra river in Assam. The project is estimated to generate 2880MW of power elevating at 278m which is considered as one of India’s most ambitious hydro-electric projects.
The projected cost for the dam is Rs 28,080.35 crore and was recently approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic affairs headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Government of Arunachal Pradesh is expected to receive 12% free power from the project accounting to an overall benefit of Rs 26785 crore for over 40 years of project life. The total area slated to get utilised in order to build this infrastructure is around 4,650 hectares.
What the project offers ?
The project is expected to provide electricity to the people living in the state, with 13.46 mega units for free. The project is also believed to act as a protective shield against flood water entering into Assam during the monsoons.
Controversy surrounding the project -
In 2013, the Forest Advisory Committee disapproved the project on the basis of the magnitude of threat this project holds for environmental, ecological and social aspects. After re-working the plan Arunachal Pradesh again submitted the proposal in 2014, but it also resulted into disapprobation from the Forest Advisory Committee. Anwaruddin Choudhury, who has been involved in wildlife survey and conservation in North East India from the last two and half decades criticized the EIA report for their erratic conclusions.
A dam of similar capacity (around 3000 MW) was built in Tajikistan named as Nurek Nurek dam. It is also constructed in a geologically sensitive area due to which it poses a threat especially in the wake of seismic activities. As per NASA’s observations if an earthquake occurs in such areas, it causes the land to slide which blocks the river and harms the infrastructure. Evidently, as the project falls under the seismic zone and is rich in biodiversity, it will be riskier to build a huge structure which will directly impact local wildlife, the community and the environment.
Constructing this project falls out of the proposed 'national interest,' as described in the BJP’s election manifesto. The government has already sanctioned an initial amount of 1600 crore on 17th July 2019, which means that the project is bound to begin in the coming year.
Amidst all the plans which are part of their strategy; the people, the wildlife and the safety of the nearest cities and states have been blatantly disregarded. It is understandable that the government is implementing this plan to develop Arunachal Pradesh, but, is building prodigious structures to cope with natural disasters, increased energy demand and putting the environment, people and culture on stake a new solution to tackle the problems?
The methods to deal with climate change as a national issue is a huge area of concern which needs rectification in order to sustain nature, energy and development.
- Guruprasad Shete
@GuruprasadShete on Twitter