Mega dams to endanger indigenous people: IPT

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Itanagar, Feb 4 (UNI): The Independent People's Tribunal (IPT), an ngo, on dams in Arunachal Pradesh has expressed apprehension over the mega power projects would endanger the existence of indigenous people living near the site.

Addressing the mediapersons here last evening, a three-member panel of the IPT was of the opinion that with coming up of the mega dams, huge influx of labourers from outside would marginalized the local population and could leave its impact on socio-economic, bio-diversity, environment besides traditional and cultural ethos of the state.

The members- S Dharmadhikari, a researcher in water issue from Madhya Pradesh, Dr S Rajkhowa from Guwahati University and Nandini Ojha, an activist of Narmada Bachao Andolon,- opined that a poor response from the government over the concern raised by the local people on the dams was not a good sign for development as it could lead social unrest and tension in the project areas. Besides, throwing the lives of thousands into a state of uncertainty over a period of time, they added.

They felt that such a situation could be averted if only the government and the power developers took care to address the problems confronted by the displaced people in the areas surrounding the projects.

The team which visited the Subansiri Lower project at Gerukamukh and the downstream areas of the project and listened to the woes of the locals, said that there was a strong reason to point that several clauses had been violated while overlooking the plight of the people in the project areas. Besides, the impact brought about by these projects have not been studied properly which gave rise to the fear that the displaced people would have very little say in their own land in near future.

The IPT believed that the locals were not involved in the environment impact assessment and conception of these projects. It also observed that only a side of the story of the dams, that was, how much revenue the state would earn from the dams were being highlighted but more pertinent issues such as impacts on the socio-economic activities on the people living near the proposed dams have completely been subdued.

"If the repeated memorandums by the affected people against the construction of mega dams in the state are not heard, the very purpose of development stand no where", they observed.

The visiting experts would collect all the testimonies from the two-day tribunal and would submit its findings to the government as well as the Center and press them to correct the 'gross negligence' on various projects in the state.

UNI UPB PC

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