GUWAHATI, April 19 - In a significant development, the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) in its 48th meeting held under the chairmanship of Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, decided to defer the proposal for according clearance to the 1750-MW Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Power Project on the Lohit River in Arunachal Pradesh.
The NBWL Standing Committee in its meeting also viewed that the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun should carry out hydrology/ecology study concerning the project and submit the report of the study to the Ministry in three months.
The Demwe Lower Project has generated grave concern among the people of Assam with its portend of severe adverse downstream impacts. The issue concerning the threat posed by the Project was taken to the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) by environment activist Bimal Gogoi.
The 1750-MW project is being executed jointly by the Athena Energy Ventures and the Arunachal Pradesh Government. The environment clearance to the project was granted by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in 2010 and the project site is 8.5 km away from the Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary.
It needs mention here that the Standing Committee of NBWL in its 23rd meeting held on October 14, 2011 decided that a site inspection be carried out by Dr Asad Rahmani, Member NBWL and Pratap Singh, Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Arunachal Pradesh. After site inspection, two different reports were submitted to the Standing Committee of NBWL. The matter was thereafter considered by the Standing Committee in its 24th meeting held on December 13, 2011.
In its 46th meeting, the NBWL Standing Committee that a Committee comprising of Prof R Sukumar, Member NBWL, one representative of WII and one representative of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) would visit the site and submit the detailed report to the Ministry within 30 days for further consideration. However, Prof R Sukumar informed through e-mail about his inability to conduct site inspection and requested to nominate another member for the site inspection.
The Standing Committee in its 47th meeting held on January 25, 2018 decided that the Director, GEER Foundation, Member NBWL, would replace Prof R Sukumar in the aforesaid Committee and requested it to complete site inspection and submit a detailed report to the Ministry within 30 days for further consideration. The committee visited the project site on February 25 to 28, 2018 and furnished the report.
The minutes of the NBWL Standing Committee meeting, held at New Delhi on March 27, 2018, state that R D Kamboj, Member, NBWL said in the 48th meeting that a comprehensive study on hydrology and ecology of three seasons by a reputed and neutral scientific/technical organization(s) should be conducted before according clearance to the project.
Dr HS Singh, Member, NBWL informed that the impact study of the project has not been carried out by the user agency and the State Government of Arunachal Pradesh.
After discussions, the Standing Committee viewed that the WII, Dehradun should carry out hydrology / ecology study and submit the report to the Ministry in three months. Consequently the Standing Committee decided to defer the proposal, said the minutes of the NBWL Standing Committee�s 48th meeting.