Standing Committee, NBWL ditches state facility for Athena hospitality

Staff Reporter
ITANAGAR, Feb 26: The standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) currently visiting the 1750 MW Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Project in Lohit district to re-examine the ecological impacts of the hydro power project is reportedly staying at the Athena group’s campus in Parshuram Kund instead of making use of the state government’s facilities available in Tezu, Namsai and Wakro, raising ethical concern.
The Forest department did not respond to the queries posed by this daily regarding the stay of the committee members in Athena campus instead of a government accommodation.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change had written to the PCCF (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden, Government of Arunachal on 8 February seeking all necessary support to the standing committee members consisting of R.D. Kamboj, IFS GEER Foundation, Gujarat on deputation to govt NGO in Gujarat, D.P.Bankhwal of National Tiger Conservation Authority, Guwahati and Dr. Gopi. G.V. Scientist with Wildlife Institute of India.
The committee is set up by the Environment Ministry following directions from the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
The NGT had suspended the Stage-I and Stage-II forest clearances to the project in October last year, stating that former Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan’s decision to overrule the non-official expert members of NBWL to clear the Demwe Lower Project was taken in violation of laid down rules.
Athena is currently facing insolvency and the National Company Law Tribunal had ordered the commencement of Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process against Athena Demwe Power Limited, the project proponent of 1750 MW Demwe Lower Project on 28 September, 2017 as it failed to clear the debt amounting to Rs 333.80 crore to the Indian Bank- a public sector bank.
According to papers available with this daily, the company wants the Arunachal government to bail it out from the present financial crisis.