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MoEF seeks fresh info of various expert committees

Itanagar, July 4: To the relief of many, on June 22nd the Ministry of Environment and Forest sought afresh the bio-datas of all chairpersons and members of the various Expert Appraisal Committees (EAC) including information on ‘conflict of interest.’ This decision by the ministry came after P. Abraham was forced to resign from the chairmanship of the MEF (EAC) on River Valley and Hydropower projects.

In a letter dated June 12th addressed to the Environment Minister, organizations had pointed out the ‘conflict of interest’ in Abraham chairing crucial committee which takes decisions on dams and hydroelectric projects seeking environmental clearance. Abraham is on the board of several power companies’ whose projects come before the EAC for environmental clearance.

Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT), All Idu Mishmi Students Union (AIMSU), Peoples Movement for Subansiri-Brahmaputra Valley (PMSBV), Arunachal Citizens Rights (ACR), River Basin Friends, Idu Cultural and Literary Society (ICLS), Waterwatch Alliance, Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group, Matu Jansangathan and South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (SANDRP) reiterated that crucial decisions taken by the Abraham committee in the past two years need to be reviewed.

Not a single project was rejected by this committee on merit and all projects were either granted pre-construction or environmental clearances, in spite of serious concerns raised in many of them by civil society groups.

Among others, the committee is accused of Illegal subversion of an April 2007 National Environmental Appellate Authority (NEAA) order which asks for advance cumulative impact studies of multiple dams coming up in a river basin. Where river basin studies have been prescribed (e.g. Bichom and Lohit rivers in Arunachal Pradesh), these have been ‘delinked’ from the clearance of individual projects, belonging primarily to private sector companies, including in one case where Abraham is on the board of one of the promoter companies.

The committee refused to prescribe detailed ‘downstream impact assessment’ studies in over two dozen hydel projects in the Northeast, even though the issue has been repeatedly raised by groups in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and elsewhere.

These organizations urged the MEF to do a comprehensive review of such decisions of the Abraham committee in a transparent manner and take appropriate actions. Such a review is necessary to restore credibility into the environmental decision-making process.

Affected Citizens of Teesta appeal to nation as Sikkim Satyagraha completes two years

A Gangtok report adds: On the occasion of the Union Power Minister,  Sushil Kumar Shinde, dedicating the 510 MW Teesta V hydroelectric project to the nation, the Affected Citizens of Teesta have appealed to the nation to halt the indiscriminate juggernaut of dams in the ecologically and culturally sensitive Teesta river basin. ACT and other sister organisations have been on a Satyagraha since June 20, 2007 to raise concerns about the juggernaut of over two dozen dams planned in the tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim which are becoming a serious threat to the rights of the indigenous communities and the ecological security of the Himalayan state.

In May 2008, Jairam Ramesh, who was then the Minister of State for Power, had raised concern about the ‘MoU virus’ which had affected some of the north-eastern states. He was referring to the rapid pace at which states such as Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh were signing agreements (MoUs) with hydropower companies. This ‘MoU virus’ has also created a serious environmental governance issue, which Ramesh in his present capacity as Environment Minister needs to deal with urgently.

Teesta V project has involved serious violation of green laws too during the construction phase. In 2007, the Sikkim Chief Secretary admitted to an environmental governance crisis in the 510 MW Teesta V project in an affidavit to the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee. The affidavit said that the power company had “grossly violated the terms, conditions and guidelines” of the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MOEF) and dumped excavated material “into the river Teesta obstructing its free flow causing thereby huge damage to the forest and environment.” Information received through RTI by ACT reveals that project affected families increased to 928 as construction progressed, even though clearances were obtained on grounds that only 72 families are being affected! This number is huge considering the small population of the tiny state.

This increase in affected persons occurred because the extensive tunneling using explosives in the fragile hill areas has led to huge landslides, drying up of water sources used for drinking water and irrigation purposes and cracking of houses. Due to the unprecedented impacts due to massive tunneling activities, which were hidden from the people as a projected impact at the time of environmental public hearings held before the Teesta V project was granted clearances, the power company NHPC had earned itself the name of ‘uttani musa’ (mountain mouse) as it dug deep into the fragile mountains. The callous manner in which work was carried out is also revealed from the fact (information received by RTI) that at least 48 persons were killed during the construction of the Teesta V project. Even after commissioning, the impacts continue. The opening and closing of the reservoir gates during monsoon floods resulted in sinking of lands around the reservoir area, which in turn damaged the properties of people. Due to shabby ‘Reservoir Rim Treatment’ work around the reservoir, people suffered loss of property during the last monsoons. Even the power generation (and the related revenues) have been affected by the flood and heavy siltation during the monsoons. This should have been obvious if a proper environmental risk assessment was done prior to grant of clearances to the project. The Teesta V project was granted environmental clearance by the MoEF in May 1999 on the condition that a carrying capacity study of the Teesta river basin will be conducted. The condition stated that: “no other project in Sikkim will be considered for environmental clearance till the carrying capacity study is completed.” However, the MoEF not only considered projects for environmental clearance, but granted clearance to at least seven projects in Sikkim before the carrying capacity study was completed, in violation of its own mandatory condition!


KKSU express concern at lack of teachers

ITANAGAR, July 4: Kargu Kardi Students’ Union (KKSU) toured five circles of Yomcha, Tirbin, Liromoba, Darak and Kamba of West Siang district to inspect various educational institutes and gather public view on the present education scenario.

The union alleged that no efforts have been put forward by the government and the public to strengthen the quality of education. It also blamed the teaching staff for the deteriorating education system.

The union alleged that most teachers don’t perform their duties but draw their monthly salaries.

KKSU further claimed that students of government higher secondary school Liromoba and Yomcha appeared their board examination without any English teachers and Tirbin government higher secondary school has been running without a political science teacher since its inception.

Some primary schools have become defunct due to absence of faculty members and infrastructure.

The union said that Director of School Education T Taloh has assured to post teachers at the required schools at the earliest.


ZPM objects to spree of inauguration

ITANAGAR, July 4: ZPM, Pumao Block Ngamka Wangnaw in a letter to Deputy Commissioner, Tirap District regarding tentative inauguration programme of 10 numbers of government official building at ADC headquarter Longding wanted to find out why the offices were being inaugurated after it has been in use for number of years.

The Office buildings of Block Development Officer (BDO), Rural Work Department (RWD), SDPO and Public gallery at general ground have been in use since last five years or so. The question of inaugurating and display of inauguration sign board does not arise as it is already in use.

The release further said that the general public and local leaders of the area opposed inauguration of 10 numbers of government official building by local MLA in a Day. It said that the concerned department minister or other high dignitaries could be invited to inaugurate the buildings.

It appealed the Deputy Commissioner to direct the Additional Deputy Commissioner to cancel the proposed inauguration programme on July 6.


Dree Greetings

ITANAGAR, July 4: Arunachal Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu  who is in Delhi presently has greeted the people of Arunachal, particularly the Apatani community on auspicious occasion of Dree . In a message he wrote, “May the warmth and splendor, that are a part of this auspicious occasion, fill your life with happiness and prosperity”.

Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee extended its greetings and wishes to Apatani community on the occasion of Dree festival on July 5.

APCC hopes that the festival brings peace, progress and prosperity and also spread the massage of communal harmony and feeling of brotherhood amongst all.

It prayed for showering of blessing to one and all.

MP Takam Sanjoy wished the people of Arunachal Pradesh in general and Apatani brothers and sisters in particular on Dree Festival.

He said that he has been forced to miss the Dree celebrations because of budget session.

May this Festival brings peace, Joy and harmony amongst various sections of people in the State. This festival will further strengthen the bond of friendship and usher in prosperity, reports his PRO R N Lalum.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, Arunachal Pradesh State Unit while extending its Dree wishes expressed the hope that the festival would usher in friendship, peace, harmony and compassion for all.


AR organize health camp

Changlang, July 04 : Continuing their drive to uplift the standard of living of people of Changlang, Assam Rifles today organized a free health check up camp for school children at Holy Rosary School, Laktong, Changlang.

108 children and 06 teaching staff were checked and accordingly advised for their medical problems. The main ailments of children were RTI, skin diseases, malnutrition and water borne diseases.

The medical officer of 25 Assam Rifles also spoke on health and hygiene for teachers and parents. The doctor told them how to take precautions against skin diseases. He also educated them regarding importance of a balance diet, vitamin deficiency and methods for their prevention by locally available natural resources. He also explained the mode of spread of water borne diseases and some economical methods like – sedimentation, boiling, chlorine tablets, filtering etc for their eradication.

The principal along with whole teaching staff and parents thanked the Commandant 25 Assam Rifles and requested them to organize such type of events periodically.(DIPRO)


Few takers for IUCD training programme

PASIGHAT, July 4: Few turned up to attend the 6 days long Intra-Uterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD) Training program, imparted to the doctors of Arunachal Pradesh.

DC Onit Panyang regretted that only six Gynecologists, four MOs and one Sister Trainer of the state could attend in this state level training program. He suggested the local medical authority to obtain approval from the Minister and Commissioner (H & FW), govt. of Arunachal Pradesh to organize one more the training program soon so that more doctors and health workers could under go training.

Dr. Jayalal Mohan National level Master Trainer, New Delhi appreciated the trainees for their courage and enthusiastic participation and apprised the house that the Alternative Methodology in IUCD training for Gynecologists and MOs was conducted under the prescribed guidelines and MOHFW (GoI). The training was emphasized on humanistic model called ZOE before performing on clients and only trained doctors are permitted to insert Cu-7380A after having such training Dr. added.

The DDHS Dr. B.C. Sarma said that population control is a national burden and such training and implementation of IUCD would bring Behavioral Change Communication among the physicians to provide quality health services to the community and regulate population growth.

In his deliberation the Dr. T. Taloh DMO (Pasighat) said that the doctor should be a role model to guide the common citizens of the country to make them socially responsible and prevent unplanned pregnancies. (DIPRO)


AICC and APCC delegate tours Tirap

ITANAGAR, July 04: AICC secretary Sanjay Bapna who was on two days trip to Tirap district advised the party workers to follow the party principles and ideologies of the INC for a clean and healthy politics while addressing a gathering at Kanubari on July 2.

He further stressed that INC is the only party to bring developmental activities in the country.

ZPM chairperson R Maham elaborated on the present political scenario of the area. He appreciated the visit of the leaders to the district and said that their visit would give moral support to the party workers at the grass root level.

APCC secretary A Kallu addressing the public urged the party workers to work hard for the coming elections so that INC party emerges as winner.

The frontal wings of block submitted their activity report to the party delegates.

At Deomali, AICC secretary Sanjay Bapna urged upon party workers and senior leaders to maintain party norms and discipline to strengthen it from the grass root level.

Former minister Wangpan Lowang urged upon the party workers to be sincere and dedicated towards following the principles and ideologies of the party.

He also apprised the visiting dignitaries about the problems faced by the party workers as well as the public.

MLA Wangki Lowang also called upon the gathering to work unitedly for the greater interest of the party.

Deomali block president C Hondique said that the visit of the party delegates will encourage the party workers at the grass root level.

The delegates were accompanied by DCC president T Aboh and DYC president K Sumnyan.



NREGA norms be followed: PRIs

ITANAGAR: All ASMs and GPMs of Doimukh-II assembly Segment urged the concerned department of NREGA to implement the centrally sponsored scheme in proper way and supply the material after proper verification of work site.

It also urged the state government to decentralize the purchasing of materials for NREGA and CGI Sheet, where a beneficiary get 30 numbers of CGI Sheet against Rs 38,000 or increase CGI Sheet to 40 numbers to the block level under strict vigilance of Deputy Commissioner.

It further suggested the education department to set examination papers of class I-VII from DDSE level to ensure quality education and implement NCERT Books in all schools to bring uniformity and lamented over inadequate school infrastructure and school boundary walls.

The meeting also observed one minute silence and prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul of former GPM Gumto Panchayat Tana Tapi, who died recently after prolong illness.


Committee oppose handing over of CHC to NGO

ITANAGAR: Coordination committee of Deomali responding to a press release issued by Panchayat members supporting handing over of CHC, Deomali to NGO, termed it unfortunate and appealed the involved panchayat leaders not to mislead the public.

The committee claimed that the people of the area opposed handing over the CHC to NGO and appealed the government to withdraw the decision for the greater interest of the public.

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