Monday, 30th October 2017

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Arunachal project loses green nod

The National Green Tribunal has suspended the forest clearance of the 1,750MW Demwe hydel project in Arunachal Pradesh.

By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Guwahati
  • Published 1.11.17
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The Lohit valley where the Demwe project will come up

Guwahati: The National Green Tribunal has suspended the forest clearance of the 1,750MW Demwe hydel project in Arunachal Pradesh.

Two environmental activists from Assam, Bimal Gogoi and Rohit Choudhury, had challenged the forest clearance saying it was granted on wrong and inadequate information submitted by the Arunachal Pradesh government of wildlife habitats, biodiversity-rich areas and ecologically and culturally sensitive areas.

The tribunal in its October 24 order said the clearance was granted brushing aside views of the non-official members of the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife. "Having constituted a statutory standing committee as per the provisions of the central enactment and in the absence of the method of decision to be taken by such standing committee, we are of the view that either the chairperson, who happens to be the minister of state, should have given proper reason for rejecting the objection of a majority of the non-official members or the decision ought to have been arrived at based on the opinion of the majority of the members of the standing committee of National Board," it said.

"In the absence of any reason but only to reject the majority of the non-official members who happened to be experts in the field and whose objections have been elicited in the communication of the deputy inspector-general of forests dated February 11, 2012, in our considered view and in all fairness either the minister in-charge of forest or the standing committee of NBWL should have taken the decision with proper reason. In the absence of any acceptable reasons, we have no hesitation to hold that the decision of the minister as if it is the decision of the standing committee of NBWL, which forms the basis of granting of the FC (forest clearance) in this case under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, is not sustainable in law," it said.

Former Union minister for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh had written a letter to the then Prime Minister on September 10, 2010, raising serious concern on the project. According to the petitioners, this concern had not been considered before the grant of forest clearance.

The final forest clearance was given in May 2013.

The project is situated in Lohit district and being executed by Athena Demwe Power Ltd.