FAC suggests establishing community reserve near 3,000 mw Dibang MP as govt says no to NP

[ Tongam Rina ]

ITANAGAR, 4 Nov: The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the environment, forest & climate change ministry, which had earlier suggested establishing a national park (NP) near the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation’s (NHPC) 3,000 mw Dibang Multipurpose Project (DMP), has now suggested establishing a community reserve or conservation reserve under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, in consultation with the local people, to safeguard the rights of the indigenous community, and directed the state government to submit its report within three weeks to the ministry ( https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2019/07/18/centre-approves-2880-mw-dibang-multipurpose-project-without-final-forest-clearance ).

Deliberating on the forest diversion for the 3,000 mw DMP, the FAC had on 17 October revealed that “Stage-II approval to the project was granted on 12.03.2020, based on the submission that the state has directed the PCCF (WL) to initiate the process of declaration of national park.”

The FAC noted that the Arunachal Pradesh government, vide letter dated 17.08.2022, informed that the matter “has been examined by the divisional forest officers having jurisdiction over the area,” and that “it has been found that the legal status of the land in question is un-classed forest/community forest, on which the local people are enjoying customary rights since time immemorial and therefore will not part away with their land by declaration of national park.”

Earlier, the FAC had noted that the “state forest department should initiate the process to declare the right bank of the reservoir up to the ridgeline bordering the basin boundary between the Siang and the Dibang, up to the Dri river to the north as a national park for future preservation of ecological diversity in the river basin.”

Speaking to this daily, FAC nodal officer KB Singh said that, once his office receives the minutes, the wildlife department will start the process of community consultation for a community reserve or a conservation reserve.

In July 2019, the Centre had approved the DMP, paving way for the construction of the world’s tallest concrete gravity dam ( http://forestsclearance.nic.in/search.aspx?Type=old&cat_id=FP/AR/HYD/960/2011 ), with a height of 278 metres, on the Dibang river by the NHPC without the final forest clearance.

The project was rejected twice by the FAC before the environment clearance was granted in 2015.

The FAC, while rejecting the proposal, had observed that the “ecological, environmental and social costs of diversion of such a vast track of forest land, which is a major source of livelihood of the tribal population of the state, will far outweigh the benefits.”