NEW DELHI: The proposed multipurpose Dihang Dam Project in Arunachal Pradesh has been termed as a “Racial Discriminatory project to the people in North East” during a press conference on the UN Committee on Racial Discrimination and Dibang Dam, a joint campaign against the dam.

The joint campaign was organised on October 13 at Manipur Press Club, Imphal by North East Dialogue Forum (NEDF), Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRA), Social Action Development Organisation (SADO), People’s Platform Secretariate (PPS) and Village Women Coordinating Committee (VWCOC).

Whilst condemning the activities of National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) to construct the proposed Dihang Dam, strong protests were made by these organizations against it.

Alongside, U Nobokishore, Convenor of NEDF and the Secretary of the UN Committee asserted in the released press note that the project in its present form clearly violates UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Substantiating this, he quoted media report which stated that nearly 5022.842 hectares of forest has to be cleared for the proposed project and will submerged large areas of Mehau Wildlife Sanctuary, a home to endangered birds of the State such as Black Parrot Bill, March Babbler, Manipur Bush Quail, white Winged Duck, Large Whistling, Griffin Vulture, Grey Heron.

Further, a charter of demand was released by the Committee which strongly condemned the construction of the dam along with a list of demands that it wanted the government to fulfill.

The charter of demand included the formation of a high level Internal Expert panel to investigate against NHPC and Construction of Dibang Dam.

Second, It suggested the establishment of a Special Investigation Team to investigate against the Arunachal Pradesh government and NHPC on the issue of how their planning procedures are process and another high level internal expert panel to investigate the construction of the dam.

The demands also included that India should respect and protect the rights of the indigenous people to use their land, forest, water as part of their self-determination to decide the kind of development the people want. It urged to conduct a research on social, economic and cultural impact on the Upstream and Downstream of the Debang Dam by engaging neutral expert from University in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam and Manipur.

The charter demanded the implementation of “FREE, PRIOR, INFORMED CONSENT” under the guidelines of the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People. It alleged that NHPC and India are violating the mandate of UN Special Rapporteur of Indigenous People, UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Special Rapporteur on Business and Human Rights.

Further, the press note suggested that electricity to the people can be provided through mini-hydro project instead of mega dams.

Informing that people in Upper Assam like Tinsukia and All Assam Student Union (AASU) have been vehemently protesting against the Dibang Dam and its potential impact to the People in downstream since 2007, Nobokishore said that they were not allowed to take part at public hearing at Roing.

He also pointed out that the project, launched in January, 2008 by the erstwhile Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is supposed to be the “highest Concrete dam in Asia and expected to provide up to 3000 MW of hydroelectric power and also assist in flood control in the Dibang Valley upon its completion”. This means that it will be one of the biggest projects in terms of dam height and generation of power in India.

Divulging that despite the fact that Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) rejected the project’s application by NHPC in 2013,the press note said that the Ministry has now issued Environmental clearance for the project upon its re-submission though it is not been officially intimidated.

“It is clear to everyone that the dam is to be financed by the World Bank. It is a fact that what banks do is to work for the profit. Then, the question arise here is why the indigenous people like Idu-Mismi should sacrifice for the profit of banks who finance dam construction”, the communique added.