Thursday, June 27, 2013

Is Northeast India's Next Disaster Point After Utt'khand?

By Vijay Wahiktu / Dispur

Arunachal Pradesh is planning on at least 150 MoUs for power generation in the fragile hills of the Eastern Himalayas in high seismic zones. Is the Northeast in the next disaster point after Uttarakhand? Environmentalist Neeraj Vagholikar said, "Arunachal is no different. It's a part of the Himalayas and it's prone to such natural hazards and while Arunachal goes to exploit its hydel power potential, there's a need to really ensure that you have followed all the steps."
In more cases than one, environmental impact assessment and risk assessments have been ignored, though there are so far only three major projects under construction. "I am complaining about mega dams coming up on river Siang because it is submerging all livelihoods of the people. In totality we will be annihilated by these dams, said Taram, an environmental activist.

Sikkim has 26 hydel power projects. INN noticed extensive tunneling and construction in its earlier visit. Almost like in a traffic jam one has bumper to bumper cars, you have bumper to bumper dams and tunneling in Sikkim and parts of Arunachal Pradesh and that makes the geologically fragile landscape weaker and more vulnerable during a natural disaster.

It is something Sikkim witnessed during the earthquake in 2011. So is it too late in Arunachal? "The Government of India needs to take a pause and actually put these systems in place, the impact assessment, the risk assessment, consult people both in upstream and downstream area," Vagholikar said. That is crucial since the line between man made and natural disaster is a very thin one.

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