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Tension brews in Arunachal Pradesh over proposed dam on Siang

Residents of Upper Siang district in Arunachal Pradesh have vehemently opposed a multi-purpose river valley project proposed by NITI Aayog on the Siang river.

india Updated: Sep 28, 2017 23:27 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Guwahati, Hindustan Times
Arunachal Pradesh,Siang dam,NITI Aayog
40 big and small projects generating over 15,000 MW are being constructed in Arunachal Pradesh.(File)

Residents of Upper Siang district in Arunachal Pradesh have vehemently opposed a multi-purpose river valley project proposed by NITI Aayog on the Siang river.

The opposition comes less than 48 hours after NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant floated the proposal for the 10,000 MW project at a meeting attended by Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday.

Besides generating electricity, the project which would involve constructing a 300 metre tall dam, would also moderate flood and erosion Kant had told Khandu urging the government to make the initiative viable and feasible.

But several organisations in the northeastern state, where 40 big and small projects generating over 15,000 MW are being constructed, have come out in protest against the move.

“We oppose the project as the reservoir of the dam will submerge large tracts of agricultural land and affect 25 villages and two towns of indigenous Adi people of the area in the upstream and nearly 30 villages downstream,” Vijay Taram, spokesperson for Forum for Siang Dialogue (FSD) told HT.

In a statement, Forum for Siang Dialogue and other organizations—Siang Peoples’ Forum and Siang Indigenous Farmers Forum termed the think tank’s proposal as a “mad rush and weird dream of making money”.

According to the NITI Aayog, the project would attract investment worth ₹80,000 crore to the state and once completed, it would bring the state nearly ₹2,600 crore annually from its free power share.

In the meeting in New Delhi, Khandu and his senior cabinet colleagues informed NITI Aayog officials about negative notions against large dams in the state and urged the latter to conduct on-the-spot surveys and make residents aware about benefits of the Siang project and all its possible ways of generating income.

“We are not opposed to other dams that are being constructed on tributaries of the Siang, but the mega project proposed by NITI Aayog will cause devastation in the Siang Valley and we will not allow it,” Taram said.

First Published: Sep 28, 2017 23:26 IST