ITANAGAR, Sep 27: A day after NITI Aayog proposed construction of a Multipurpose River Valley Project for Siang River, the Forum for Siang Dialogue (FSD), Siang Peoples’ Forum and Siang Indigenous Farmers’ Forum have opposed the proposal.
The organisations said that the proposal was mad rush and weird dream of making money by intentionally designing to displace the indigenous people by killing their livelihood along with killing of the river and environment in and around Siang valley.
The NITI Aayog has proposed Multipurpose River Valley Project estimated to be a 300 metre dam with power generation capacity of 10000 MW.
Rejecting the statement of the NITI Aayog that with construction of the Multipurpose River Valley Project, the flood and erosion of soil will be moderated, Vijay Taram of Forum for Siang Dialogue said that once the natural life of the river is disturbed and killed, the water stored in the dam and released during heavy downpour of monsoon rains will create more havoc and devastation and cause immeasurable soil erosion.
Everyone is well aware of last month’s flash flood at Lakhimpur, Assam areas, when the dam waters of Ranganadi Dam had to be released due to heavy downpour of the rains to protect the bearing capacity of the dam, Taram added.
The organisations added that the project is going to affect more than 25 villages and two towns in the upstream and more than 30 villages in the downstream and many towns in Assam before it affects Bangladesh.
The organisations have welcomed the statement of the Chief Minister Pema Khandu in urging the NITI Aayog to come to the ground and meet the to-be-affected people and to know the nature of the opposition to the project.
They cautioned the Chief Minister not to interfere with nature too much.
Reacting to the statement of Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, the three organisations requested him to donate his properties before asking people to sacrifice their properties that have been inherited from their forefathers, but not from any governments or by corrupt ways and means.
Further, the organisations rejected the statement of NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar’s accord to depute a central team to interact with local people to convince them about the benefits of the project.
When the locals do not want to part away with their agricultural and horticultural fields or gardens and their respective houses in the villages, the question of any negotiation does not arise, it added.
The organisations further stated that, sometime in 2012, the Spokesperson of FSD, Vijay Taram, along with Akhil Gogoi and Medha Patkar had met then Leader of Opposition, Sushma Swaraj regarding review of the mega dams in North East India, and particularly the mega dams on the Siang River, to which she had assured to extend her all-out support and co-operation if her party comes to power.
It also recalled that Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi had proclaimed at Pasighat town of Arunachal Pradesh in his election campaign in 2014 that if voted to power, his government will not construct any mega dam which is opposed by the locals.
The organisations said that it does not have any opposition to the rest of the mega dams out of the more than 40 mega dams proposed in the Siang Valley, but opposition is only to the mega dams proposed on river Siang.
Also rejecting the proposal for Multipurpose River Valley Project for Siang River, the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) in a statement said that the initiative and the proposals for huge development must come from the primary stakeholders.
“Any proposal of developmental projects from outside against the will of indigenous people of the state will be treated as imposition”, it said in a communiqué.
Reiterating its demands for ownership rights over natural resources, such as land, rivers, forests, the PPA said this can only be attained by rectification of the defective Arunachal Pradesh Statehood Act 1987 that has placed the state under Article 371H.
The PPA felt that state government must take steps through Union Minister of State Kiren Rijiju for constitutional amendment to place Arunachal Pradesh under Article 371A so that indigenous people of the state enjoy ownership rights of its natural resources at par with Nagaland and Mizoram.