Opposition by residents and activists to construction of dams in Arunachal Pradesh has stalled projects that could generate around 40,000MW of power in the state, dealing a blow to the Congress governments in Itanagar and Delhi.
It has prompted the BJP to take up the issue in its campaign.
According to data, the Congress government in the state has signed at least 160 MoUs with power developers under four chief ministers since 2006. Then junior power minister Jairam Ramesh had in 2008 termed the phenomenon an “MoU virus”.
While some MoUs were scrapped because of the agitation over land rights, there are still around 150 memorandums of understanding, which, if implemented, would make the state’s power generation capacity around 4,000MW.
Over the past two years, monks accusing the administration of not taking the consent of people have led droves of Monpa Buddhists in picturesque Tawang to protest against the construction of big power projects and to even threaten self-immolation. This has put on hold 13 agreements with a combined capacity to produce around 2,800MW.
There have been similar protests by residents of the Siang river basin on the other side of the state, which has stalled around 40 agreements.
Nearly 2 lakh people are dependent on the Siang and its tributaries.
“Why should the indigenous communities of the area be displaced from their ancient homes?” asked Oyar Gao, the general secretary of the Siang Peoples’ Forum that has participated in several protests.
Aware of the opposition to big dams in the state, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had in February told a rally in Pasirghat that “large dams are not needed if we can build environment-friendly smaller dams”.
State BJP spokesperson Techi Necha accused the Congress government in the state of “taking money from power developers” and asserted that “tribal land rights must be respected before they are given away”.
According to PCC general secretary T.C. Tok, the protests were being “instigated” by the BJP.
“We would be more than willing to discuss and negotiate the issue if needed,” Tok said, adding that the projects would help address the issue of unemployment.
has set up a polling
station for only two
voters at Malogaon
under the Hayuliang
division in the newly
created Anjaw district
in the Arunachal East
In nine polling
stations in the Lower Dibang Valley district,
also in the Arunachal
polling parties walk
between 10km and
46km to conduct polls