Idu Mishmi people object construction of Etalin project

ITANAGAR, JUN 28 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 6/28/2020 1:38:10 PM IST

Idu Mishmi people have expressed dissent over the construction of Etalin Hydroelectric project. In a letter to the Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda, the group stated that that the Wildlife Conservation Plan prepared by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for the Etalin Project is incorrect and scientifically biased.

Quashing the report, the group said “It cannot be used to inform decision-making on this project as a recent peer review by 29 Indian scientists found that it contained shocking inaccuracies, falsehoods and contradictory claims, in addition to the fact that it conveniently skipped the mandated ‘multi seasonal study’ instead conducting a short 4-month survey on ‘mutually agreeable terms’ with the Project Developer (Jindal Power Ltd.).”
The groups called assessment unprincipled alleging that it has essentially given a green signal to the project by falsely stating that there is no evidence of tigers in the region. It pointed out that the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) accepted the report by the WII which obliterated the tigers of Dibang Valley but instead included African bats, not found in India. “Such blatant falsehoods by a supposedly ‘scientific’ institute are shameful, ” the group stated.
The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Environment Ministry on April 23 accepted the WII Etalin study ‘in toto’ despite the reported inaccuracies and falsehoods, the group alleged.
Also rejecting the assurance for compensatory afforestation, the group said that no amount of compensation can replace the essential forest ecosystems that will be lost due to the mega dam. The disruption of the complex ecological relationships within a natural ecosystem can cause zoonotic diseases like the global tragedy brought on by COVID-19. This project would not only risk future disease outbreaks, it will surely further accelerate climate change, it added.
Stating that the region exhibits high seismicity and lies within the seismic zone V as per IS Code (IS 1893 (Part 1): 2002), the letter also asked whether if the Etalin HPP and the many other projects proposed in the Dibang Basin would be able to withstand seismic events of magnitude greater than 8.6.
The group also expressed fear of losing their identity due to the influx of labourers that will be needed to construct the dam. “Such huge numbers of workers will no doubt outweigh the population of the Idu-Mishmi and neighbouring communities. The loss of market control will marginalise local people in their own lands. And majoritarianism undoubtedly configures the politics of any region. The threat therefore is not just social, economic, political, and cultural, it is existential,” the letter read.
We understand the nuances of developmental projects but we strongly resist the imposition of ‘development’ that threatens our very existence, takes away our rightful ownership of our own lands, risks culture and biodiversity, and exposes our future generations to a vulnerable, impoverished and uncertain future, the letter further said.

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