Stop Etalin Hydro Electric Project
If you're on this page, it is because you've learnt that India's Forest Advisory Committee is in the process of granting forest clearance to the Etalin Hydro Project that will lead to the devastation of around 3 lakh trees in the Dibang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh. With the fate of these trees and highly rich and diverse wild species hanging, please sign the petition here and write to Honourable Prime minister of India here.
You can also submit your response here.
Also, please email to the following email ids with the subject and body mentioned below.
Honorable Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh,
The Director-General of Forests,
Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change,
Indian Forest Service,
Chairperson and the Esteemed Members of the Forest Survey Committee,
Government of India.
Subject: Petition against the Etalin Hydro-Electric Project
I write to you for your kind consideration in the light of the Forest Advisory Committee planning to pass the proposed Etalin Hydro-Electric Project (3097 MW).
I would like to respectfully submit the following points for the kind consideration of everyone and hope that the esteemed committee will consider these issues before concluding:
1. UNDERVALUING THE COMMUNITY-FORESTS OF DIBANG VALLEY
One of the interpretations regarding community-managed forests (Unclassed State Forests) outside Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary is that they are ‘degraded’, and therefore of limited value for conservation. However, an independent camera-trap based study cited by your committee (F. No. 8-20/2014-FC) found that these community-managed forests hosted a much higher diversity of mammals than Dibang WLS. Further, using a large sample of camera-trap data, this study also estimated that the landscape of Dibang Valley could harbor as many as 52 (22-144) adult tigers, a large majority of which are likely to hold permanent home ranges in the district’s community forests.
The land in which the project is proposed is in pristine forests with riverine growth that once cut cannot be replaced. This assessment of irreplaceability is also corroborated by the Site Inspection Report of the Regional Office, Shillong (dated the 3rd and 4th of December, 2014) within which they state that “The forest area in which the project was proposed is in luxuriant USF [Unclassified State Forests]”.
2. UNIQUENESS OF BIODIVERSITY OF THE AREA
Multiple sources of evidence point to the outstanding richness of the biodiversity of the area, much of which is yet to be thoroughly studied. The biodiversity assessment surveys by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) that were conducted between the altitudes of 600 to 1800 found 21 mammal species and 230 bird species from the Etalin-Hydro Electric Project study area.
3. UNDERESTIMATION OF BIODIVERSITY VALUE OF THE AREA
Etalin-Damro road is more likely to be closer to 300 species including some rare ones like Blyth's Tragopan, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Ward's Trogon, Hodgson's Frogmouth, Beautiful Nuthatch, Wedge-billed Babbler, Mishmi-Wren-babbler, etc”. To put this in context, the entire country of Norway, 42 times the size of Dibang Valley district, hosts around 282 resident bird species. Finally, many researchers have noted that a majority of biodiversity documentation has focused in the western parts of Arunachal Pradesh, with vast areas of Dibang Valley still scientifically understudied, with potential for the discovery of new species
4. ADHERING TO INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENTS
India is a signatory to several key international commitments for the protection of biodiversity. Most notable amongst these is the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) and Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Animals (CMS) that are relevant to the protection of species found in Dibang Valley. Dibang Reserve Forest and its adjacent areas, along with Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary are officially recognized as globally Important Bird Areas (IBAs) harbouring globally threatened range-restricted species. The destruction of the habitat of the many species of migratory birds that utilize the project area is likely to undermine India’s commitment to CMS.
Importantly, India is not only a signatory to the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) but also its founding member. The entire area of Dibang Valley has a genetically distinct population of tigers that “merit the status of a special population unit of high conservation value.” India’s commitments to the Global Tiger Initiative mean recognizing that “undervalued tiger ecosystems are degrading and disappearing”, and that “...tiger landscapes are significantly undervalued in national and global agendas” (pp ix).
I respectfully request to take into account the above concerns and do not take forward this project in this highly diverse landscape.
India can once again lead the world as a true ecological champion in this time of unprecedented social and ecological crisis.
Once again, thank you very much for your kind consideration.