Dibang dam gets nod

The Centre has given a green signal to the Dibang dam — set to be the largest hydropower project in India at 278 metres — which was put on hold during the United Progressive Alliance regime due to environmental concerns.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved ₹1,600 crore for pre-investment activities and clearances for the Dibang multipurpose project in Arunachal Pradesh, which is estimated to cost ₹ 28,080.35 crore to build, and once completed, will generate 2880 MW power.

Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar hailed the hydro-electric multipurpose project as a “major contribution of India” to the world which is battling climate change. “This project will produce 2880 MW of power but not use any coal,” Javadekar said.

In 2013, the Forest Advisory Committee of the ministry of Environment and Forests put the project on hold after it found that around 350,000 trees had to be felled for the project that was supposed to come up on the Dibang river.

Once complete, the project is expected to generate 2880MW (12x240MW) power to produce 11223 MU of energy in a 90% dependable year. “On completion, the government of Arunachal Pradesh will get 12% or 1346.76 MU free power from the project. The total value of the benefit to Arunachal Pradesh will be ₹ 26,785 crore over the project life of 40 years,” an official said.

The project has received statutory clearances, including the environment clearance, forest clearance (stage l) and defence clearance. Only forest clearance (stage II) remains, for the project to seek investment sanction from Centre.

A sum of ₹ 241 crore has been allocated for community and social development.

Sushanta Talukdar, a Guwahati-based analyst on Northeastern affairs, pointed out that the “main issue before the union government is to take the people of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh into confidence over the possible impact on the environment, as Arunachal Pradesh has a fragile geology.”

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