The Irony And Negative Impact Of Dam Construction In Arunachal Pradesh

Posted on May 1, 2012 in Specials

By Jigish Shah:

Arunachal Pradesh is a haven for natural resources. The government has put on various hydroelectric projects in the states to generate electricity and also in preparation to build the biggest hydro plant in the country with a capacity to generate 300 MW per day.

The state is going to be dubbed as power house of the country, but due to many large projects of generating electricity, eyebrows are being raised against them due to severe social and environmental impact. Many people have been affected due to the dam construction and are homeless and no care has been taken to migrate the local people. One of the main issued raised was rehabilitation of migrants. This all has happened due to lack of proper planning.

Lack of Transparency: The local people have not been given any information or any knowledge about the construction of the dams and why their lands have been acquired by the government and how the authorities will help and assist them to migrate.

Destruction of resources: One of the biggest impacts of dam projects is the destruction of natural resources like forests, rivers, land, fish, etc. on which the local population depends for its livelihood and other needs. While two villages were shown to be losing land to submergence under water, many other villages and people were affected as their rice growing fields were affected by the project. The amount of forest land required for the project was 4000 hectares. This forest area is cultivatable source for the local people to earn a living and due to the projects many other things have also been destroyed.

Ecological impacts: The beauty of the river and the river valleys has been affected. These dam projects will severely destroy the greenery and the flora and fauna which is indigenous to the area.

Destruction of culture and identity: One of the biggest impacts of dam construction is likely to be on the culture and identity of the local people. The local population of Arunachal Pradesh consists of about 26 major tribes and more than 100 sub-tribes in the state. These tribes have their distinct identity, language, customs and locations. As the total population of these tribes is small in number, they are excessively vulnerable to the influence of outsiders that is likely to take place with the construction of such huge infrastructure projects.

Difficulties of jobs for local people: While some of the government officials and dam companies are saying that the local people will get employment in the projects, this is subject to their being found eligible and qualified for the same. Since most of the local people are illiterate and not trained for the kind of jobs available, this would not really be of benefit to them.

Money Power: The authorities are receiving upfront payments from the dam builders in order to get the clearance and the permission to continue the work and many corrupt officials have given permission on the prohibited land also and these payments are estimated to be in billions. Environment Ministry should be held liable for the loss of natural resources and due to it millions of people have been affected and dislocated.

Activists and many political parties have protested and rebelled against the construction of the dams and about the planning and assistance provided to the affected people but no such unique decision has been taken yet.