Arunachal’S Hydel Project (Download PDF)

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Arunachal’s Hydel Project

  • The Etalin Hydroelectric Project (EHEP) is proposed to be built in Dibang valley.
  • It is a 3,097- megawatt project.
  • It is being developed as a joint venture between Jindal Power Limited and Hydropower Development Corporation of Arunachal Pradesh Ltd.
  • The contentious project has again sparked concerns over damage to ecology and threat of natural disasters.
Arunachal’s hydel project

Arunachal’s Hydel Project

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Overview

  • The project involves two run-of-the-river schemes with limited storage requiring gravity dams on rivers
    • Tangon
    • Dri
  • The project is proposed to be completed in 7 years.
  • Dibang is a tributary of the Brahmaputra River which flows through Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The project falls under the richest biogeographically province of the Himalayan zone.
  • It will be located at the junction of-
    • Palearctic
    • Indo-Chinese and
    • Indo-Malayan bio-geographic regions
  • Since its inception in 2008, the project has run into several controversies over concerns of-
    • Ecological damage
    • Forest invasion
    • Tribal displacement
  • In a recent meeting of FAC (Forest advisory Committee), the EHEP noted that all representations against the EHEP project were “as similar or same in content”.
  • The Forest advisory Committee is a body under MoEF & CC (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • An independent researcher wrote a letter to FAC outlining the risks of constructing mega dams over Dibang River.
  • The letter underlined four specific risks-
    • Seismic hazards
    • Glacial hazards such as glacial lake outburst floods
    • Flooding due to extreme precipitation events
    • Landslides
  • When appraisals to grant environmental clearance to the project were underway, the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) was apprised of geological and seismic risks and threats to the project.
  • SANDRP (The South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and Projects) also noted that the project did not fit the meaning of a ‘run-of-the-river’ project.
  • It entails large-scale diversions of 16.5 km in Dri River and 1 km in Tangon River.
  • Run-o-the-river essentially means that the project will be installed without affecting the river run.
  • The Dibang watershed has approximately 350 glacial lakes with an area of 50 sq. km.
  • The glaciers are retreating and losing mass due to climate change.
  • The project is expected to affect 285 families in 18 villages.
  • It would entail felling 2,80,677 trees and threatens the existence of some globally-endangered mammal species.
  • They are expected to lose up to 40 per cent of their current volume by 2030 and 60 per cent by 2050.
  • The glacial thinning may cause emergence of lakes on the surface of glaciers (supraglacial lakes).
  • Supraglacial lakes grow rapidly in se and catastrophically drain as GLOFs (Glacial Lake Outburst Floods)
  • GLOFs entail heavy costs on human life and livelihood.
  • It has been experienced during Kedarnath floods and landslides of 2013.
  • A submission by SANDRP has noted that the GLOF section of the environmental Impact assessment (EIA) report was “very inadequate”.
  • It did not provide
    • History of past GLOFs
    • The scale of the risk
    • Existing glacial lakes in the region
    • Their distance from the dam site
  • In the climate change scenario, the neglect of GLOF phenomenon is unacceptable.

- Published/Last Modified on: October 10, 2020

Govt. Schemes/Projects, Down-to-Earth