This is in response to a letter published on dated 10th of Jan, 2017, by Mr. Marli Kamki, where he so eloquently discussed the prospective gains from building dams in Arunachal such as creation of jobs, generation of revenue, infrastructure developments among others. The fallacy in his paper was the fact that he only looked at the gains from these dams (which are far from assured to being with) and not the effect widely associated with these “development activities”.
Notwithstanding the environmental clearance which these dams have failed to gain till 2015 with further time given to them, there is a clear existential danger to the socio-cultural fabric of the people who will be displaced because of the same. Is a development worth when it will result in our divorce from cultural heritage because of it? And we haven’t gone to the real issue of our location being at a fragile ecological zone prone to frequent earthquakes along with the threat to our rich flora and fauna!
As India completes a decade in the twenty-first century, and is acquiring the identity of a power of some reckoning, it needs to be conveyed that the Indian state is inclusive of the needs of the concerned and legitimate stakeholders. Arunachal Pradesh, being an integral part of India and being located in a sensitive border region, exercising a judicious mix of policy options in the state has become an imperative. These policy choices need to be explored and debated in order to create a middle path.
While Mr. Kamki did well in citing state of Sikkim for the progression made in cultivating hydro power but a basic research will show that the local stakeholders were denied their right to voice their dissent to the same and the very same dams were built with the ulterior motive of gaining carbon credits.
There are ample examples of mass displacement in India under the banner of development but we should look at what cost these comes? The Land Acquisition Act, 2013 though with good intention was drafted; there has been lack of trust and inclusiveness of the affected people in these development activities. What guarantees we get that our unemployed youths will be given jobs by these dam constructing companies? What will happen of the people being displaced? If we haven’t learnt any lesson from the cases like Narmada Bachao Andolan, Protest by the local fishermen in coastal Andhra Pradesh over Nuclear Plant etc, it is about time we do. Development in our state is must and most required and welcomed if I might add, but it is should be INCLUSIVE. We need to be the first to bear its fruit.