Centre paves way for construction of DMP, gives final forest clearance

[ Tongam Rina ]
ITANAGAR, Mar 13: The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd’s (NHPC) 2880 mw Dibang Multipurpose Project (DPM) has been accorded the final forest clearance by the environment, forest & climate change ministry, paving the way for the start of construction of the world’s tallest concrete gravity dam at an astounding 278 metres on the Dibang river.
The clearance was given on 12 March, allowing diversion of 4577.84 ha (originally proposed 5056.5 ha) of forestland in favour of the NHPC.
A day before the final clearance was given by the Centre, the NHPC had signed an MoU with the CCI (on 11 March) “for exploring possibilities for cement requirement for the DMP.”
The project is proposed on the Dibang river near Munli village, about 43 kms from Roing, in Lower Dibang Valley district.
The 278 mtrs high concrete gravity dam will be across the Dibang river, about 1.4 kms upstream of the confluence of the Ashu Pani river and the Dibang river.
The total submergence area is 3564 ha, which includes 1176 ha of riverbed. The total catchment area of the project is 77,276 sq kms.
Last year, the NHPC had taken the state government to court, challenging payment of land compensation for the DMP in Dibang Valley district.
The NHPC had gone to the Itanagar bench of the Gauhati high court against the state government, claiming that 1732.45 hectares of land for the project was “a part of unclassed state forest (USF) area that does not belong to any individual as it is not a private land.”
The NHPC refused to award Rs 1601, 39,31,725 as compensation for the acquisition of the 1732.45 hectares of the USF.
Later, the court dismissed the writ petition at the request of the NHPC itself. The corporation had filed an application in the HC, seeking withdrawal of the writ petition challenging payment of land compensation for the DMP.
On 22 October, 2019, it filed a petition “seeking withdrawal of the writ petition with leave to prefer such a writ petition in future in the event of non-resolution of the event.”
Dismissing the petition on 25 October, the court stated that the “writ petition stands dismissed on withdrawal with a liberty granted to the petitioner to approach this court again, if so advised.”
While seeking withdrawal of the petition, the NHPC told the court that it believes that the state government is keen on resolving the dispute regarding the payment of compensation.
The estimated completion period for the project is nine years from receipt of government sanction. The estimated total cost of the project is Rs 28080.35 crore, including interest during construction (IDC) and financing charges (FC) of Rs 3974.95 crore at the June 2018 price level.
The project had witnessed massive protests by the local people, which had led to multiple postponements of public hearings. The public hearings were postponed several times between 2008 and 2013 due to stiff protests by the Mishmi community. Controversially, bad weather conditions were blamed for the cancellation of most of the public hearings.
Finally, two public hearings were held in the first quarter of 2013 for Lower Dibang Valley and Dibang Valley districts, where the public was reported to have agreed to the project.
According to studies, 115 families of five villages are likely to be displaced, and 744 families of 39 villages are likely to be affected due to the acquisition of land.
The foundation stone for the project had been laid by former prime minister Manmohan Singh in Itanagar in January 2008, way before the finalization of any study regarding the feasibility of the project.