GUWAHATI, Feb 22 � The decision of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to accord wildlife-related clearance to the 1750-MW Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Power Project on the Lohit River has been resented by the environment activist groups.
Leading environment group South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDROP) has described the clearance accorded to the project as �completely unjustifiable.� The MoEF has cleared the project despite their being severe opposition from the civil society groups and experts and all the independent members of the National Board for Wildlife. The decision has come in the wake of the clearance accorded to the 300-MW Alakananda Project in Uttarakhand, it said.
�With decisions like these, MoEF is proving that it is incapable to stand up against the tools used by the hydropower lobby even when overwhelming evidence points that impacts are unacceptably severe and even if some of the most threatened ecosystems are about to be destroyed,� said the environment group.
It needs mention here that there are around 12 dam projects proposed on the Lohit River.
It is feared by the experts that the Demwe Lower project will cause massive water level fluctuations in the downstream of the dam in the winter. The daily fluctuations will range from 70 cumecs for 20-22 hours, followed by a huge peaking flow of 1,729 cumecs for barely two to three hours. This immense fluctuation will wreck havoc with the downstream ecology and social systems, said the environment group.
The downstream of the dam consists of some of India�s most threatened ecosystems; the river islands which are important bird areas and the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in Assam which is the last refuge of globally threatened species like the Bengal Florican, said the environment group.
Even at 105 kms downstream, the daily water level fluctuation will be two to three feet, it said and wondered as to what safety measures would be taken to protect the downstream communities and wildlife from such a huge unnatural change in the river flow.
In upstream Arunachal Pradesh, the project will form a 23-km-long reservoir, submerge an important forest area and affect water supply to the Parasuram Kund, the holy site for Hindu pilgrimage, the group said.