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Thursday 31 March 2005

People force resurvey of power project in Arunachal

-- the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (neepc) was recently forced by the people to order a resurvey of the 110 megawatt Dikrong hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh. Heated discussions marked the public hearing on the proposed project, held at Upia. Deputy commissioner of Papum Pare district, Bida Gadi, who was the chairperson at the hearing, was forced to announce a second public hearing in May 2005.

Panchayat leaders, gaon buras (village council members) and community leaders of Midpu panchayat, Lekha panchayat, Chiputa panchayat , Rose panchayat and DakteHoj panchayat attended the meeting, which was part of the regular process of securing an environmental clearance from the Union ministry of environment and forests. The Arunachal Citizens Rights (acr), a non-governmental organisation, also highlighted people's doubts and grievances. Gadi decided to form an "Awareness Committee" to convey the project's impacts to the people.

Those present at the Upia meeting objected to the non-availability of the Environment Impact Assessment (eia) report of the project to the people in the local language, a mandatory condition under the Environment Protection Act, 1985. acr representative Bamang Anthony claimed even the panelists did not know the eia' s contents. Member of legislative assembly Ngurang Pinch said: "People must know the transaction between the government and project's executing agencies. We don't want to supply power to entire India at our cost." Many people complained that even the 29 families likely to be affected by the project were unaware of the eia.

The neepc tried to wash its hands off the responsibility of rehabilitation. "The rehabilitation package would be given to the state government and it is its prerogative to ensure that affected people are compensated," said T C Buragohain, executive director (project), neepc.

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