Aizawl, Aug. 7: Dam activists of the region are on red alert once more over the controversial 1,500MW Tipaimukh hydel project as the Union environment and forest ministry’s forest advisory committee (FAC) is scheduled to discuss forest clearance for the dam on the Mizoram side on August 13 and 14.
The project area is on the Manipur-Mizoram border.
The agenda before the committee is diversion of 1,551.60 hectares of forestland under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, for construction of the dam in Mizoram.
People likely to be displaced because of Tipaimukh dam had recently held a joint public meeting at Khawpuar in Aizawl to reject the project.
The committee in its sitting recently had rejected the forest clearance for the dam on the Manipur side of the river in view of its heavy environment and social costs.
Its agenda papers said, “It may be mentioned that another proposal for the same project seeking diversion of 27,777.50 hectares in Manipur was discussed by the FAC in its meeting held on July 11 and 12, 2013, and the committee after detailed deliberations on the proposal concluded that requirement of forest land for the project is large and is disproportionate to its power generation capacity. Also very high ecological, environmental and social impact/cost of the diversion of vast tracts of the forestland will far outweigh the benefits likely to accrue from the project. The FAC, therefore, strongly recommended that approval for diversion of the said forest land should not be accorded.”
A high-level source in the Mizoram forest department told The Telegraph that he believed that the committee was unlikely to accord forest clearance when it has already rejected clearance for 95 per cent of the dam submergence area on the Manipur side.
Not leaving anything to chance, activists are into a flurry of memorandum writing, asking the committee to reject the project as people feared that the Centre would push it through at any cost.
The Mizoram forest department’s fact sheet for the proposed clearance is full of holes, contradictions and even outright lies, according to the activists.
It said giving the forest clearance would have no social costs, failing to mention that 14 villages will be directly impacted by the submergence of their ancestral jhum lands.
The forest department claims that all the land likely to be submerged is under the Tuivai and Tuiruang riverine reserve forests and inner line reserve forest, but mentions that the land has a “history of jhumming”.