Amidst Protests, Dibang Multipurpose Project in Arunachal Pradesh Deferred for 6 Years

Reported by

Jyotsna Singh

Published on

October 22, 2016

October 22, 2016

Updated on

October 22, 2016

Location of Conflict

Dibang Valley

Lower Dibang Valley

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Multipurpose Dam

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

3360

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

1155

ha

Starting Year

2008

State

Arunachal Pradesh

Sector

Infrastructure

The Etalin Hydropower Project, proposed in the state's Lower Dibang Valley, has been put on hold for six years as the project requires diversion of forestland and would displace hundreds of families in 39 villages in Dibang district. Assigned to National Hydro Power Corporation Limited (NHPCL), the project was launched in 2008 by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It envisages the construction of two dams over two tributaries of Dibang river: Dir and Tangon. Upon completion, the entire project will stand 278 metres tall, supposedly the largest in India and the largest concrete gravity dam in the world. Several public hearings, scheduled between 2008 and 2013, were abandoned due to protests by people who would be displaced by the project. Besides the submergence of their rice fields and the loss of land in use, around 3.5 lakh trees would have to be felled for the project. The residents allege that the official number of families and people to be affected claimed by the government is much lower than the actual number of people who will be displaced. The compliance to the settlement of the rights of the tribal population, a must for such projects as per the Forest Rights Act, 2006, was also reportedly ignored by the state.  Villagers took to the streets in 2011 to protest against the construction of the dam, and the government deployed paramilitary troops to suppress the protests. The people reportedly agreed to the project after two hearings towards the end of 2013. According to a media report, they were coerced into giving their consent to the project. The project had been denied forest clearance twice in 2013 and 2014 due to discrepancies in its Environment Impact Assessment reports and the potential loss of biodiversity. However, the project received environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in February 2015, and on November 13, 2018, the National Green Tribunal upheld it. In March 2019, prior to the Assembly elections, the state government announced a compensation package to the affected people under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. However, soon after the elections, a petition was filed by NHPCL claiming that 1,732.45 acres of land are unclassified and do not belong to any individual, leading to the Gauhati High Court staying the state government's compensation order. This nudged the locals to file a counterpetition claiming that NHPCL was trying to reduce the scope of the issue from the Land Settlement Act, 2015, to the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, which does not have any provision for compensating the affected people. The Dibang Multipurpose Project Affected Area Committee has demanded that all project work be stopped until the high court settles the matter. On July 18, 2019, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave the project the goahead and stated that the project completion would take nine years, despite it not having received Stage II forest clearance and the compensation issue not being settled. The CCEA also approved the proposal of the Dam Safety Bill 2019 and assured that a National Committee on Dam Safety will be instituted to develop policies and recommend regulations. In February 2020, the Forest Advisory committee (FAC; an advisory body of the environment ministry tasked with deciding whether forestland can be diverted for industrial projects) conducted an onsite visit to the project area. In a subsequent meeting on April 23, the FAC accepted the controversial findings of the Wildlife Institute of India study, titled Wildlife Conservation Plan for Impact Zone of Etalin HEP, and sought recommendations from the Ministry of Power on whether to continue the project or not. Following the study, there was outcry from activists and experts alike over the impact of the project on the biodiversity of Dibang valley. The decision on the project, which has already been deferred for six years, has been put on hold until the Ministry of Power clarifies about the changes, if any, made in its policy since 2014 when the project was last revised.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Refusal to give up land for the project

Opposition against environmental degradation

Demand for rehabilitation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest, Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

28080.35

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Environmental Laws, Land Acquisition Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
Schedule 1(c): [Dibang is a Category A river valley project, requiring mandatory environmental clearance]
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 3(1)(a): [Right to live and own forestland]; Section 4(1): [Vesting of forest rights with traditional forest dwellers]; Section 4(2)(e): [Consent of Gram Sabha required for resettlement and rehabilitation]
Land Acquisition Act, 1894
Section 6: [Declaration that land is required for public purpose]; Section 11: [Determination of compensation by district collector]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-rehabilitation of displaced people

Violation of free prior informed consent

Violation of environmental laws

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Yes

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Gauhati High Court

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Blockades

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Ministry of Power; Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change; Forest Advisory Committee

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

National Hydro Power Corporation Limited

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Etalin Hydro Electric Power Company Limited (a joint venture of Hydro Power Development Corporation of Arunachal Pradesh Limited and Jindal Power Limited)

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Local villagers

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

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Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Edited By

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