- G. Tallo
“Arunachal Pradesh is going to be the ‘power-house’ of India.” The people of Arunachal Pradesh, in general, love to repeat this statement with some pride. Trend is- one with better educational background and in good position use this statement more often. Our leaders use it the most times. Even leaders and dignitaries from New Delhi, whenever they visit Arunachal Pradesh, make it a point to incorporate this statement in their public speech or in their briefing to the press. A sure shot to impress the leaders and public of the state.
And, it is no surprise the Government of Arunachal Pradesh hurriedly made a wholesale deal of state’s hydropower potential.
When local people and students body of Dibang basin stage a protest against Dibang Multipurpose Project, braving scorching summer heat, at Itanagar, the July last, the onlookers looked confused. A friend of mine wondered why these people wanted to be roadblock when some developments are finally taking place in the state. He was, as most of us are, in a state of delirium. It was pleasing to our ear when Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said, while laying foundation stone of the project during his recent tour to the state, that Dibang Multipurpose Project alone will earn revenue to the state in tune of Rs. 300 crore a year. We forget to enquire at what cost this paltry 12% share of power in form of water royalty the state will get.
I know the environment issue should not always come in the way of development. Then again, it should not be ignored altogether either. I learnt from some sources that the accuracy and validity of EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) and DPR (Detailed Project Report) of some projects like that of Subansiri Lower and Dibang Basin came under scanner of some experts. It is really a cause of worry. We cannot afford to overlook the flawed EIA and DPR. Besides, the projects in magnitude of that of Dibang Basin, Subansiri Lower and others bound to have an impact on the environment. And the consequences arising out of it is to be faced by the local populace. In event of mishap occurring to the dam due to technical reason or natural calamity like earthquake, again it is the local populace, who will suffer the brunt. Also we shall not forget, some years ago a sudden rise in water level of Siang river caused trail of destruction from Yinkiong to Pasighat. The water stored in mega dam can be even more devastating in case the dam collapsed.
My gut feeling is that the paltry 12% so-called free power to the state is not justifiable. The State government should have contended with utmost 2-3 mega projects for time being and reserve the rest for future which could have been executed by the state Power Department itself or executed in partnership in order that the state have greater stake of power share.
Going by the numbers of mega projects proposed to be executed by various PSUs and private players, it is quite probable that Arunachal Pradesh indeed would become ‘power-house’ of India in days to come. But, big question here is- if it is going to benefit the state and its people. And, do our leaderships have the vision and foresight to use the surplus power to the advantage of the state and its people?