Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dams : Boon or a Curse ?

The need for development at the cost of some Tribal communities doesn't suffice for the National development on the long run, and neither it safeguards the people's right as profoundly stated in any of the Consitutional Dictionaries. But our incumbent, Stubborn, and corrupted politicians, seeing only the personal gain, with the meek propounded reasons of National developmentary works,somehow creates the Distorted Figure of Relative Low power production in the country as whole and offcourse not to forget the ever increasing numbers of power hungry industries all over the country. Ya, none denies here the Economy standout of India at this period, booming economy, surplus white collared job opportunities(BUT provided you're outside Arunachal pradesh). But why this special provision? My question here would be why Industrialization that has been a phenomenon post independence, has failed to dig a mark in Arunachal ,even after the so called, cliched , exagerrately falsifying....Glorious 50 years of Independence. Sheer example of colonial treatment? Is that?Transportation ... ?? I guess, one can't have that for excuse, seeing the present interest of NHPC and other big corporations who are willing to build the biggest dam of the world , provide cheap electricity , build good bridges, and the blah blahs of promising developmental activities, but at the cost of some Tribal communities losing their land and not to forget the Demographic distortion that it would pave forth to the Tribal dominated places.My another question here would be.... When a company(GOI owned) can promise at the span of 10 years, why Indian govt has failed to do so in the last 50yrs? Now, if you say, give and take policy... and Govt means Business here, then the balanced fulcrum of the So much Blasted Indian Democracy would turn to just one.
Just a reminder here... 50 years ago, North East had witnessed one of the biggest Earthquake in the world's history, 8.7 richter, and more than 50% of the Idu Mishmi population were killed in that. (just pertaining to my community , IDU , as the Dams are being built there). 50+ years now, no such major Earthquake has been witnessed yet, so does that implicate we won't see another such major Earthquake, 50 or 100 or 200 years from now ? That would be utterly ridiculous, given the fact that NE lies in a Seimically active zone.NHPC , now shows us the prospects of creating Dam, whose benefit we could see through burgeoning Industries that would place its base here, and not to mention the Capital inflows that would be tandem with the Business developments. Contractors would be frenzied by the so much lauded statements in their(NHPC's ) Environmental Impace Assesment report(EIA) that most of the contractorial work would be alloted to the Native of this place, till the Dam construction gets over.The Irony of this special provisions would be that, We(the Native) would be Time Scaling the existence of our community for another 50 or 100 years(provided no major earthquake takes place within it) for the sake of developmental aspects that we could enjoy for another 20 or 30 years. Well, Basics of doing Business fails here !! So where's the justice ?Now coming to seimic proof megastructures.... Till date there's no such technology that can predict when and where and in what scale the Earthquake would occur, so the Question of creating any Megastructures which is earthquake proof would be out of Topic. If this had not been true, we wouldn't have lost so many lives, to just Tsunamis.
To peoples not residing in Dibang valley, the displacement of some 2000 or 3000 peoples from their ancestral place for the cause of India, which boasts of billion population might seem a very small sacrifice. But, I request you all the pro dam peoples... visit our dibang valley.... look into the the traditions and cultures that we subscribe to, and our love for our ancestral land.... Question us, if we want the Dam ? You'll have our answer. This would be our first instance of being anti development...but quite content with the modest life.... and booming indian economy , light years away from us. We're happy.Just pondering....how much National developmental work would it have been.... a Dam on Yamuna (not far from TAJ MAHAL).
When we talk about the economic viability of the project taking care of the safety aspect, then Economics not affecting dam design and hence dam safety is,at best, Naive. To a certain degree, an increase in dam safety involves an increase in cost. For every dam project, a balance has to be found between dam safety and economy. And for this obvious reason, a slight compromise can cause havoc...not now but in future for sure. It is also not realistic to hold that all engineers in all cases follow engineering codes of ethics. Further there is no internationally accepted code of ethics for dam builders, rather a mish-mash of national and state engineering codes with ambiguous applicability to mega projects.Many of the methods to prolong dam lifespan are largely unproven, will in many cases not be economically viable, and will rarely be able to prolong dam life indefinitely. So, the question that moots out is...If there would be safe dam decomissioning after it expires ? To answer that, maybe the Grandchildren of Dam builders should be liable since it definitely wont happen in a serious way during their lives.Given the attitude of centre toward AP presently and offcourse to follow the suit in future, will for sure leave the dam as it is owing to the huge expenditure involved in Decommisioning it. So, apathy of the central govt toward Arunachal is bound to reflect in any domain of timescale, owing to the miniscule role AP has in formation of strong Central govt.
Few of the excerpts from the memoradum that we'ad submitted to the CM in protest of Dam projects in Dibang valley.Only the indigenous populations are victims of pre-dam and post dam construction disaster.More than 4,00,000 sqkm - have been inundated by reservoirs worldwide. This represents .3 percent of the world's land area, but the significance of the loss is greater than the figure suggests as river valley land provides the world's most fertile farmland, and most diverse forests and wetland ecosystems.More than 13,500 people have been swept to their deaths by the roughly 200 dams outside China which have collapsed or been overtopped during the 20th century. Two large Dams which burst when a massive typhoon hit the chinese province of Henan in Aug 1975 left an estimated 80000 to 230,000 dead. This disaster was kept secret by the chinese govt and was only revealed to the outside world in 1995. People have also died in Earthquakes caused by the great weight of water in large reservoirs. An earthquake of magnitude of 6.3 richter caused by Koyna Dam(INDIA) in 1967 killed around 180 peoples.Impact on demographic profile, health and culture of indigenous population"large Dams have had serious impact on lives,livelihood, cultural and spiritual existence of indigenous and tribal people due to neglect and lack of capacity to secure justice because of structural inequities,cultural dissonance,discrimination and economic and political marginalization,indigenous and tribal people have suffered disproportionately from the negative impacts of large dams while often being excluded from sharing in the benefits" as per the WORLD COMMISSION ON DAMS.
HEALTH: Dams can have significant adverse health outcomes for local population and downstream communities. In recent years the high incidents of HIV/AIDS in construction and settlement areas is a growing concern. Destruction of community productive bases in agrculture and fisheries can give rise to food shortages,leading to hunger and malnutrition. The Sikkim state has had experienced this serious threat.HIGH SEISMICITY: Dr.K.S.Valdiya,"It would be imprudent to go in for high dams in Arunachal's highly earthquake prone region of active faults." (keynote address in workshop on environmental planning and sustainable developments in AP in Dec 99).The Northeast is a geologically fragile area and is seimically active. Well known Dr.K.S.Valdiya, while referring to the geological set up of Arunachal says:"Owing to the extremely active geodynamic condition of the terrain, even the slightest tampering with teh ecological geological balance can initiate environmental changes,likely to assume alarming proportions eventually. There is an imperative need for extraordinary care when it comes to modifying topography by excavation,placing loads of water and sediments in river impoundments, changing groundwater circulation through road cutting,removing protective forest cover,etc".Usually, when seismicity is discussed in relation to dams, the factors discussed are reservoir induced seimicity and direct damage to the dam due to an earthquake. Civil Engineers are quick to point out that a dam will survive upto 9 or 10 on richter scale. However seismic activity may cause changes in the geophysical enviroment and the river system, which may have a serious impact on the viability of a project as several basic parameteres vis-a-vis the regime of rivers and the morphology and behavious of channels may change.The last two major earthquakes in the region (1897 and 1950)caused landslides on the hill slopes including the blockage of river courses, flash floods due to sudden bursting of landslide-induced temporary dams, raising water to a much dangerous level.
Is it FLOOD CONTROLLER ?While large dams could regulate regular annual floods if an adequate flood cushion is provided , they often fail to hold back exceptionally large floods. Dams can also worsen flooding by reducing the capacity of the riverbed downstream. They can also cause serious floods when reservoir operators make sudden releases of water, something which was experienced in more than one case by the ASSAM Valley in the monsoon of 2004( Kopili hydropower reservoir run by NEEPCO).The eastern himalyan rivers experience great variation in minimm and maximum flows and is prone to sudden increased water flows due to intense precipitation in a very short time, which increases risks of such releases from dams on the river. Unfortunately, the Environmental Risk Assessment done for projects such as Lower subansiri and Middle siang projects only looks at the "DAM BREAK ANALYSIS" scenario and completely ignore other environmental risks which can pose challenges to the viability of the project, both interms of its performance as well the impacts it causes downstream.In the USA and France, Dams have been decommissioning to restore key environmental values often related to migratory fishes, and often as a condition of project relicensing.Whereas Arunachal pradesh is covered with forests of exceptionally high biodiversity. There are 4000 to 5000 species of vascular plants per 10000 sqkm. The second richest biodiversity zone in the global context. And as per the EIA report submitted for the Proposed Dibang hydro project, NHPC mentioned that Dibang valley or the submerging area to be precise, has only 2 species of Butterflies. Seems amusing. Supporters of large dams point out that big dams do not have only negative impacts but also positive ones. Once again, however, the evidence is scanty in this respect. Whatever be the negative and positive impacts, one striking fact of india's river valley projects is the absence of comprehensive impact assessment, both pre and post construction.
ACTUAL PERFORMANCE OF LARGE DAMS IN INDIA .In a recent report for the world commission on dams(WCD), an exhaustive look at the facts and figures available establishes that until 1978, most dams were not assessed for their environmental and social impacts. Even when they began to be assessed, alternatives to the dam were never assessed and mostly not even considered. Also, that the current system of granting environmental clearances is subject to all sorts of political and admistrative pressures, resulting in clearances being granted to projects without assessing their impacts or even when they are non-viable.Dam failure and emergency releases of water pose a threat to downstream populations. Again though no comprehensive data are available, the havoc wreaked downstream by, the Bhakra Dam (1970s and in 1988) and the Rihand dam in 1997 is well known. Dr. Y.k.Murthy, a former chairman of Central water and power commission has concluded that, of the 131 dams studied by him, 36man;ifested distress , in 20 the spilways were inadequate and in 25 the freeboards were inadequate, all compromising the safety of dam. In 90 of the dams studied, there was no emergency reservoir operations plan.Perhaps the most heart rending aspect of large dams is the displacement of Human populations. Again no comprehensive data are available. A study by CWC, of 54 projects, showed a per dam submergence of 24555ha. The same study showed a per hectare displacement of 1.1person. If one were to extrapolate these figures to the 4291 large dams built in India, the total displacement figure would be 11.5 crore in the last 100 years or so. So clearly, the major costs of large dams are borne by the poor and the weak. But who are the major beneficiaries ? The irrigation benefits go to those downstream and , among them, disproportionaftely to the large farmers. Similarly, the peaking power that dam provide goes primarily to meet the peak demand of the urban rich and the industry. What does the Nation gain as a whole ?
According to the WCD study, large dams after 1990 show no economic benefits over costs and only have a distributional function, where " the benefits are reaped by farmers and others in the command areas and the costs are borne by the Society at large, tax payers and the project affected people. So we have a situation today where thousands of dams have been built, with little or no environmental assessments and safeguards, and huge adverse social impacts. Millions of hectares of forests have been destroyed, huge areas have become waterlogged , incidence of water borne diseases has increased, lakhs of peoples have been thrown out of their homes,mainly TRIBALS, the poor and the weak. And all this to create structures that, even without acknowledging most of the environmental and social costs, add not a rupee worth of value to the Indian economy. All they do is redistribute the existing resources so that the poor are further deprived and the relatively well off gets the benefits.

List to watch out for !
No. Name of Project District Capacity Developer Status (in MW)
1 SIYOM west siang 1000 Reliance MOA signed
2 TATO-II west siang 700 Reliance MOA signed
3 NAYING west siang 1000 D S Construction MOA signed
4 HIRONG west siang 500 Jai Prakash MOA signed
5 SIANG LOWER east siang 1600 Jai Prakash MOA signed
6 NYAMJUNGCHHU-I (tawang) 98 Bhilwara Energy MOA signed
7 NYAMJUNGCHHU-II (tawang) 97 Bhilwara Energy MOA signed
8 NYAMJUNGCHHU-III (tawang) 95 Bhilwara Energy MOA signed
9 TAWANG-I (tawang) 750 NHPC MOA signed
10 TAWANG-II (tawang) 750 NHPC MOA signed
11 KALAI-I (anjaw) 1400 Mountain Fall India MOA signed
12 KALAI-II (anjaw) 1200 - tender called
13 HUTONG-I (anjaw) 588 - tender called
14 HUTONG-II(anjaw) 1250 Mountain Fall India MOA signed
15 BADAO (east kameng) 60 - CEA clearance awaited
16 KAMENG DAM(east kameng) 600 KSK Electricity MOA signed
17 KAPAK LEYAK(east kameng) 160 - S&I Stage-II
18 KAMENG-I (east kameng) 1120 NEEPCO MOA signed
19 TALONG (east kameng) 160 GMR Energy MOA signed
20 DIBBIN (west kameng) 125 KSK Electricity MOA signed
21 KAMENG-II (west kameng) 600 Mountain Fall India MOA signed
22 KAMENG (west kameng) 600 NEEPCO under construction
23 RANGANADI-I lower subansiri 405 NEEPCO COMPLETED
24 RANGANADI-II lower subansiri 130 NEEPCO CEA clearance awaited
25 SUBANSIRI LOWER(lower subansiri) 2000 NHPC Case in Supreme Court
26 SUBANSIRI MIDDLE(lower subansiri) 1600 NHPC Restricted by Supreme Court
27 SUBANSIRI UPPER(upper subansiri) 2000 NHPC Restricted by Supreme Court
28 OJU-I (upper subansiri) 700 -- Restricted by Supreme Court
29 OJU-II (upper subansiri) 1000 -- Restricted by Supreme Court
30 PARE (papumpare) 110 NEEPCO MOA signed
31 LOHIT (lohit) 3000 -- S&I Stage-II
32 DEMWE(lohit) 3000 -- tender called
33 DIBANG(lower dibang valley) 3000 NHPC MOA signed
34 SISSIRI(lower dibang valley) 222 -- tender called
35 AMULIN(dibang valley) 420 -- tender called
36 EMINI (dibang valley) 500 -- tender called
37 ANGOLINE(dibang valley) 375 -- tender called
38 MITHUNDON(dibang valley) 400 -- tender called
39 ETABU (dibang valley) 165 -- tender called
40 MALINYE(dibang valley) 335 -- tender called
41 EMRA-I(dibang valley) 275 -- tender called
42 EMRA-II(dibang valley) 390 -- tender called
43 ELANGO(dibang valley) 150 -- tender called
44 ETALIN(dibang valley) 4000 NTPC MOA signed
45 ATTUNLI(dibang valley) 500 NTPC MOA signed
46 NIARE -- 800 - S&I Stage-II
47 NABA -- 1000 - S&I Stage-II



NPR 8:54 PM  

This is the first time that i have visited ur blog...u have done a great work.We all Arunachalees have to decide whether the dam projects are boon or curse...keep posting more.

EmoreL 11:34 AM  

Thanks for the feedback...
Regardin the facts and some of the statistics, I had taken it from the memorandum that was prepared by someone else.

But, I guess, now everyone's geared up for the DAM...
I am not certain(heard it from someone else), CM khandu had made a visit to Roing, just to create the awareness of roping in such mega projects, and he also made it a point by distributing(spending otherwise) a sum of 2crore in his maiden visit.
Well.. so much for few crores ?
And I guess, it has suceeded in wooing some of the local leaders(say Gram panchayat leaders)in Roing, no wonder the paucity of funds that has crippled Roing, ever since Apang came back to power.
Anyway, Student bodies back home are actively agitating against these projects to take up shape, and hence we have witnessed the State Govt reclusively changing the PUBLIC hearing dates. It was slated in may, then postponed to june, then again for nov or dec... but now the certain date remains unconfirmed.
Well, sheer strategy to buy time... and inexplicable show of camaderie by our Politicians, after all they can't become namak haram to these PSUs.
But, what about we people ?
Well, thats a question we people need to think and come ahead.
God bless Arunachal !!

Anonymous,  10:11 PM  


While i sincerely and truely appreciate your views and understand your concern.
If in your place i was there,may be i would have done same.

But you know human life is like that.i believe you must have heard about theory 'survival of fittest'.

An earthquake of such magnitude is catostrophe and civilisation have been wiped out since ages irrespective of dams were there or not.

Morever sometimes it pays reaps and bounds when risk taken.
You talk about bhakra project and alike,if you be a bit optimistic and see,it was also reason for green revolution in that region. And thats why they have developed,and so such project are give and take process.you have to in the end become proactive and take initiative yourself, government seriously is paralysed if local people are lethargic and not willing.
Industries and employment come in area only where they see.simply have a bit optimistic outlook and see,it is not like other parts of india have not been exploited but then have benefitted too.
Government by itself cannot do much in long terms except giving grants which is useless as such.
So such dams and other big projects are necessary evil my friend.

Having said this,i totally agree that as residents of arunachal pradesh,you have full right over whats yours and final decision rests with you.


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