MoEFCC again writes to GoAP over non-compliance with compensatory afforestation against SLHEP

[ Tongam Rina ]

ITANAGAR, 5 May: The ministry of environment, forest & climate change (MoEFCC) on 12 April wrote a reminder letter to the government of Arunachal Pradesh as the state government did not respond to an earlier letter seeking details regarding compensatory afforestation against the NHPC’s 2,000 mw Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project (SLHEP).

The ministry had written to the state government on 16 December last year, seeking details regarding the compensatory afforestation (CA).

“Despite repeated requests and the fact that the proposal was accorded in 2004, ie, 18 years back, and compensatory afforestation is yet to be done, it is not known as to why the state government is not making efforts in carrying out compensatory afforestation towards instant diversion,” the letter written on 12 April read.

In the letter, addressed to the state’s forests principal secretary, the ministry sought details on the diversion of 3,999.30 ha of forest land for the construction of the SLHEP. The ministry sought a compliance report with regard to the conditions stipulated in the FC approval dated 12 October, 2004; the revised identified CA sites without any further delay; convincing justification for delay in carrying out CA; the status of the project implemented till date on forest land; project-wise and year-wise details of the funds received by the government of Arunachal from the national authority/ad hoc CAMPA, under NPV/CA/CAT Plan, etc, so far; and the status of carrying out approved activities, including CA.

It further said that “geo-coordinates/KML file of all CA done (including details such as area in ha, year of diversion, year of taking up of CA, expenditure in each CA scheme, etc) against forest diversion proposals may be given.”

In the December letter, the state government had been asked to examine the identified CA land through “ground truthing” and change the CA sites to actual degraded forest areas, wherever necessary, and submit the report to the ministry for further action. However, the report on the revised CA patches, along with the shape/KML file has not yet been received, the ministry wrote.

While CA is yet to be started, as reported earlier, the SLHEP deposited Rs 4.26 crores on 30 July, 2021 as advance to the state’s forest department against an estimated amount of Rs 8.51 crores submitted for clear felling of trees falling in the submergence areas under the Banderdewa forest division.

“The clear felling of trees started from October last year,” the NHPC said.

Compensatory afforestation is supposed to start soon after the grant of forest clearance, so that the compensatory forests attain sufficient growth by the time the trees in the reservoir area are felled before commissioning of the project.

The techno-economic clearance for the project was accorded on 13 January, 2003 by the Central Electricity Authority at the cost of Rs 6,608.68 crores, with the expected commissioning date in September 2010, and an installed capacity of 2,000 mw (8×250 mw) of the project.

An expenditure of Rs 15,506.40 crores has been incurred till March 2022. The revised cost of the project is Rs 19,992.43 crores.