May 24

Free health camp at Nafra

BOMDILA, MAY 23: Sajolang Elite Society is organising two days free mega health camp at Nafra which started today to mark the 10th foundation day of the society.

On the inaugural day, more than 400 patients were treated and provided free medicines, spectacles, blood investigation, Ultra Sound, ECG Audiometry. Free crutches, hearing aids and wheel chairs were distributed to the needy. The health camp is being conducted with the collaboration of R.K.Mission Hospital, Itanagar headed by Senior Doctor (EYE Specialist) Dr. Talum Sorum, Hope Health Clinic- Bhalukpong headed by Dr. Jumsang Sidisow and District Health Society Bomdila headed by Dr. Gom Lamu (Gynaecologist) Bomdila.

MLA Japu Deru inaugurated the mega health camp. He praised the Sajolang Elite Society for its contribution towards the Sajolang Society under the leadership of its president Er. Aju Khonjuju. He also appealed the huge gathering to take advantage of the free health camp and avail themselves with the modern medical facilities.

O Padu E.A.C Nafra was also present on the occasion. DIPRO


Candlelight vigil to mourn deaths

ITANAGAR, May 23: Galo Students Union of RGU organized a candlelight vigil to mourn those four killed in electrocution at Wak village few days ago. The candlelight vigil was also joined by many students of the university, including research scholars.


DSA favours Sports Dept to construct stadium

ITANAGAR, May 23: Adopting a resolution in favour of the Sports Department in a meeting today, the District Sports Association (DSA) in a release said that it will have no objection if the proposed stadium at Aalo is executed by the sports department adhering to the DPR maintaining quality.

The executing agency and the contractor concerned must ensure the quality of the work and depute departmental technical staff on the spot to monitor the work quality, said DSA in a release.

“DSA will not support or endorse any comments in whatsoever form from any individual or organizations regarding the proposed construction of the stadium at Aalo”, the release said.

The DSA also agreed to constitute a monitoring committee comprising senior DSA members who would coordinate with the executing agency to monitor the quality of the work.

The public should desist themselves from raising the issue of the one executing the work rather they should focus on the issue of quality of the work as unwanted issues may result in diversion of the fund, the release added.


IFCSAP team tours eastern Arunachal

ITANAGAR, May 23: A team of Indigenous Faith and Cultural Society of Arunachal Pradesh (IFCSAP) toured eastern parts of the state to create awareness among the believers of indigenous faiths and beliefs regarding its movement for promotion, protection and preservation of indigenous faith and culture and traditions.

The team led by IFCSAP Secretary General Bai Taba toured Namsai, Lohit, Anjaw, Lower Dibang Valley and Changlang in coordination with Arunachal Vikash Parishad (AVP) and Akhil Bharatiya Kalyan Ashram May 17 to 22.

They held meetings with IFCSAP’s district unit members and indigenous faith believers and suggested the prayer centres to create awareness among the people about indigenous faiths and harfulful effects of using drugs and alcohol.

The team also discussed about holding of the ensuing IFCSAP Youth Festival-2016 in eastern zone.


Health workers trained

ITANAGAR, May 23: The Longding unit AVP organized a three day training programe for village level health workers at Longding from May 20.

Around 20 health workers from 20 different villages attended the camp, who will be engaged for distributing medicines on behalf of AVP to patients suffering from minor diseases.

Two doctors of AVP, Dr. Pathak and Dr. Mishra imparted necessary training to the health workers.

DVBDCPO Wangnai Wangsa attended the programme and spoke at length about Malaria, the most prevailing disease in Wancho area, and the measures to prevent it.

AVP Longding unit president Chanwang Wangsa asked the health workers to serve the poor and the needy patients saying that “service to humanity is service to God”.


KVK training

ITANAGAR, May 23: Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Basar, West Siang conducted a training programme to encourage farmers to adopt new technologies to increase crop productivity.

The Subject Matter Specialists (SMSs) of the KVK educated the farmers about crop rotation technology to manage pest and disease, improve soil nutrient to increase quality and crop productivity. They were also taught on integrated disease and pest management in Maize. Altogether 30 farmers participated the training .


Fund misappropriation alleged

Karda Natam

DAPORIJO,May 23: The All Mosu Welfare Society (AMWS) has alleged misappropriation of SPA fund sanctioned during 2013-14 for construction of Mosu helipad ground at Siyum circle, Upper Subansiri district.

In a release, the society said that the amount meant for the helipad project has already been withdrawn without any project work in the village by the contractor with the help of concerned department. The villagers are not aware of any work executed by the implementing agency, the Society said.

The Society further said that it had registered complaint against the PWD Division Khodukha and tenderer of the work to the Khodukha Additional Deputy Commissioner, but no action has been initiated yet.

Meanwhile, the Society has sought the intervention of higher authority into the matter and initiate legal action against all the defaulters especially Asstt. Engineer PWD division for allegedly releasing the govt. fund without execution of project work. It also threatened to take the path of agitation if the authority fails to initiate legal action against the wrong doers.


Social service conducted

ITANAGAR, May 23: The members of Donyi Colony Youth Club cleared the road and drainage system in their colony that were blocked by landslides due to heavy rainfall.

The social service was organized under guidance of Indo Global Social Service Society which was appreciated by the elders. Around 25 members participated in social service.


News Impact

Rs.50 lakh Prayer Hall inaugurated

ITANAGAR, May 23: A Pentecost Day Hall (Prayer Hall) constructed at a cost of Rs.50 Lakh sanctioned under SPA was inaugurated by Legislative Assembly Speaker Nabam Rebia during the 11th Pentecost Day celebration organized by Arunachal Pradesh Christian Revival Church, Papum Pare District Council at Hara Hapa under Doimukh circle today.

Highlighting the state government’s various development activities for the benefit of common people, like Chief Minister’s Universal Health Insurance and Skill Development Schemes etc., Rebia urged all to avail these benefits.

He acknowledged the Christian Community’s immense contribution in bringing about a change and reformation in the society and appealed to all to preserve their own culture and tradition.

Meanwhile, Rebia expressed its strong resentment over alleged objectionable postings in social networking site by some persons with vested interest to tarnish the image of Congress government in the state and urged all to refrain from such activities.

Rebia was accompanied by Tana Yayo, ZPM Doimukh and various religious leaders of Christian Revival Church (CRC) from state capital.



ATA demands bifurcation of Elementary & Secondary Education

ITANAGAR, May 23: Arunachal Teachers’ Association (ATA) has called for complete bifurcation of Elementary and Secondary Education with creation of separate Deputy Director of Elementary Education and Deputy Director of Secondary Education for all the districts, creation of Group ‘B’ Gazetted Headmaster  post at elementary level and head teacher for primary level as per Right to Education (RTE) Act for inclusiveness of organizational structure of Department of Elementary Education in the state, immediate division of teachers for both the Elementary and Secondary Education based on post/designation held or through preference offered by the teachers.

ATA also placed a scheme which may be applied to channelize the promotional avenues for teachers of both the Directorate.

The Central Executive Committee of the ATA led by its Vice President, C.K.Yab called on the Minister of Education, Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh on May 22 and submitted a memorandum to this effect.

In order to streamline and to eliminate inconsistency or sluggishness in promotional avenues of teachers ATA insist on mandatory sitting of DPC on yearly basis at both the Elementary and Secondary Directorate.

Replacement of existing text books of Elementary level with new syllabus based on regional framework with inclusion of topic allied to Tribe, Economy, Society, Culture, Tradition etc of Arunachal Pradesh and introduction of Sociology and Education subjects in the curriculum of Secondary Education. Immediate sanction of 73 posts of Head master and Vice Principals. Till 2014-15 state had total 153 no’s of Secondary schools out of which only 80 schools has sanctioned HM/VP posts, it added.

It further said BEO should be made fully promotional post and 50 % by promotion from senior most Junior Teacher (JT) and rest of the 50 % by merit adjudged through limited departmental competition among in-service Junior Teacher (JT) having an experience of minimum 8 years of service.

It also called for ban on holding dual charges while informing that BEO’s, BRCC and other field functionaries under National Flagship Program (SSA/RMSA) are holding dual charges in the state ignoring laid down norms.  ATA also requested the Minister to draw up a suitable mechanism on a regular basis to consult ATA on major decisions, affecting the School Education system and to thrash out service related issues from time to time.



Do not be misled by foreign forces: Kamin

ITANAGAR, May 23: MLA Nikh Kamin has emphasized on socio- economic development and not to be misled by the foreign forces specially the Chakma youth.

He asked them to come to the mainstream and also asked the people of Bijoypur to avail the benefit of programes implemented by the Govt of Arunachal Pradesh.  He also advised all to live in peace and harmony.

Later, he visited the flood affected area of Bijoypur village in his constituency and inspected the work progress of flood control work executed by Water Resources Department funded under DoTCL.

After the inspection, he held a meeting with the heads of the department of Bordumsa Circle at Bijoypur.

Kamin gave stress on development work with proper coordination with the officers and public and ADC Bordumsa, S. Miji and EAC cum BDO Tamo Riba also spoke on the development prospect.



Capacity building training under BADP

Prepare ourselves for self-employment: Pasang D Sona

ITANAGAR May 23: Speaking at the valedictory function of the capacity building training under BADP in basic computer for West Siang District, MLA Pasang D Sona said that, “We need to prepare ourselves for self-employment and look out for jobs in the private sector as well as no Government can provide jobs for all the employable persons”. The MLA advised the trainees to be on the lookout for Government schemes which encourages self-employment.  

Pasang also exhorted the trainees to pass on the details of this training to their counterparts back in their villages and encourage greater participation in the days to come.

He also thanked Director, Department of Skill Development and Employment Generation for taking skill development programmes to the people of border areas and congratulated DBYC and its staff for organising the programme effectively.  

Subu Tabin, Director, Department of Skill Development and Employment Generation briefed the trainees and the audience about the various skill development programmes that the Government has taken up with the assistance of 40 Vocational Training Providers from various parts of the country and encouraged the young people present to seize the opportunity. He also exhorted them to further upgrade the skills they learnt during the residential training and become employable and to break the mindset that makes most people in Arunachal not to venture out into other states of the country.  

Seju P. Kuruvilla, SP, Capital, advised the trainees to have the courage to work anywhere in India or even abroad and earn a living. “Wherever we work, we are part of our State and represent the work force of that State”, said Seju and cited the example of Kerala from where a large number of people are working very successfully in various parts of the country and abroad.

He advised the trainees to be open to moving out of the state as ample opportunities are available in various parts of India.

Dr. V. N. Sharma, SLO, NSS also exhorted the trainees to continue learning from the introductory training and not to stop learning at any point of time.  

Fr. C. D. Mathai congratulated the trainees for being regular and completing the training with determination.  

The trainees expressed satisfaction over the training provided by DBYC, especially for incorporating components of English Fluency and Personality Development into it.  In all 40 youths benefited from the training sponsored by the Department of Skill Development and Employment Generation. An equal number of trainees from Upper Siang is scheduled to begin training at DBYC soon.



Rainwater submerges Ruksin


RUKSIN, May 23: Heavy rainfall since yesterday night submerged some parts of Ruksin town and low-lying areas.

The affected areas flooded are the Ruksin ADC office, Tax & Excise office, Forest colony, Police station and Police colony.

Water-logging is a perennial problem at Ruksin town due to absence of proper drainage system. The local MLA despite repeated appeals from the public did not pay any heed to construct drains in the township. It is also alleged that some shops set up on MMR road at Ruksin gate are blocking the natural drains resulting in artificial floods.

The local residents have demanded the local administration to take urgent measures for disposal of stagnant rainwater and initiate action against the shopkeepers.



Aisa Yeh Jahaan bags International Award of Excellence

Lipika Ajmera

Mumbai, May 23: Arunachal’s Maya Kholie produced Bollywood film has bagged multiple awards at various International film festivals round the world. The name film “Aisa Yeh Jahaan (THE WORLD IT IS…)” which has been produced by Maya Kholie and written and directed by Biswajeet Bora from Assam. The film has won the “International Award of Excellence 2015” at “International Film Festivals for Environment, Health & Culture 2015” at Indonesia. “It gives immense pleasure for a filmmaker when a film gets recognition world wide”, said Biswajeet Bora.

The film has also received the “Silver Award 2015” at prestigious “International Independent Film Awards 2015” at San Francisco 2015. Another achievement of the film is to have “Official Finalist & Recognition 2015” at “Mexico International Film Festival 2015” at Mexico City. Adding to it, the film got “Official Selection 2015” at “Grace Film Festival 2015”, San Francisco.

As per the information from the production house, the film is scheduled for release in July 2015 all over India. The film has six music tracks composed by Dr. Palash Sen and all the songs will be releasing in June.  

The film is set in Mumbai, tells the story of ever growing human detachment with nature and how an urban family gets trapped in the concrete jungles of a metropolis. It reflects the wide-range conception of children drifting away and gradually forgetting their roots, and the circumstances that somehow push us into today’s world of technology, but eventually the film gives out its social message in a satirical and light-hearted way. It is filled with subtle humour and has a sardonic style of storytelling. Sources say, the film tries to bring the Northeastern flavour for the first time in Bollywood mainstream cinema. Also in the film, it raises the issues of how Northeastern people face racism in the metro cities.   

The film stars Dr. Palash Sen, Ira Dubey, Yashpal Sharma, Tinu Anand, Kymsleen Kholie, Prisha Dabbas, Saurabh Pandey and Carol Gracias.   

“Aisa Yeh Jahaan” is India’s first Carbon Neutral feature film, with the help of CERE, an NGO from Mumbai, the production company has planted almost 370 trees all over India to make the film Carbon Neutral.



Parents urged to inculcate traditional cultural values in child

ZIRO, May 23: Upset by the way the younger generation is being influenced by western culture, SDO Nending Chatung appealed to the parents, particularly mothers to inculcate in young minds the importance of traditional cultural values and their preservation.

Participating in the inaugural function of the week-long district level cultural week organized by District Art and Culture Office at Abotani hall here today, SDO Nending gave a clarion call to stay rooted to our own culture and traditions. Otherwise it is inevitable that globalization will lead to total loss of our cultural identity. He further suggested for documentation of folklores and folksongs by the Art and Culture Department.

EAC Mokar Riba said the rich and diverse culture and traditions of Arunachal Pradesh is unique throughout the world and we must preserve and protect it.

District Art and Cultural Officer, Taniya Siga informed that the department started the programme two years ago with an effort to document the age-old folklores and folk songs as well as to identify those who are well versed in such songs for their recognition.

SCO Dagi Angu, DFCSO Tarh Takia and cultural troupes from both Apatani and Nyishi communities and general public took part in the celebrations. DIPRO



Bangladesh extending help: Kiren

New Delhi, May 23: Bangladesh has been providing full cooperation in tracking down fundamentalists and criminal elements, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said on Saturday.

Addressing the sixth India-Bangladesh Friendship Dialogue, Rijiju said there were fringe elements along the border which try to vitiate the atmosphere but they would not be allowed to destroy relations between the two countries.

"Bangladesh has been very helpful. They have been providing full cooperation in tracking down fundamentalists and criminal elements," he said.

The Minister said India-Bangladesh border is there to connect and not to divide and New Delhi is always looking forward to improve the bilateral relations further.

"We are very careful not to vitiate the atmosphere. I will not name anybody at this time. Without Bangladesh, India could not Look East and when you Look East, you cannot bypass Bangladesh," he said.

Referring to the recently ratified Land Boundary Agreement by Parliament, he said it indicated the enormous good will in India for Bangladesh.

"And then whether we like it or not, we have to live together," he said.

Rijiju also advocated more people-to-people contact between India and Bangladesh. PTI



International Day for Biological Diversity, 2015: Biodiversity Rich Rivers are a fundamental building block of Development

A report by Sandrp

May 22 has been proclaimed as the International Day for Biological Diversity by the United Nations. The theme for this year's celebration is Sustainable Development.

Beyond its ceremonial value, what is the status of biodiversity in India and what are the safeguards in place? Let us look at the issue from the prism of rivers. Rivers are an apt indicator as they connect terrestrial, riparian, aquatic, estuarine, even marine biodiversity as they flow and are a reflection of the issues faced by these ecosystems. Although it is difficult to believe, Indian Rivers are the richest repositories of biodiversity and can be classified as Endangered Species themselves! We are the 8th richest country in the world and third in Asia when it comes to fish diversity: a megadiverity hotspot. Indian rivers hold about 50% of all aquatic water plants and are home to thousands of species of migratory and resident water birds, amphibians, reptiles, riparian plants, phyto and zoo plankton, etc.

So how are we treating our rivers?

Just three days ahead of the International Day for Biological Diversity, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) issued Environmental Clearance to3000 MW Dibang Hydropower Project on Dibang River, one of the important tributaries of Brahmaputra in Arunachal Pradesh. The project will submerge more than 4700 hectares or 11,624 acres of rich forests under its reservoir. The EIA of the project done by National Productivity Council (Guwahati) was so flawed that it included exotic fish species never found in the river in its list, while omitting Rare, endangered and threatened species. These forests harbor endangered species such as tiger, leopard, serow as well as the critically endangered takin, all of which are protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The grasslands in the area are home to endangered Bengal Florican. Other species include the critically endangered white-rumped vulture, the slender-billed vulture and the white-winged wood duck. The project site lies in an area identified by the Bombay Natural History Society as a Ramsar site and an Important Bird Area. The habitat of six endangered plants (Aconitum ferox, Coelogyne mossiae, Dendrobium aurantiacum, Paphiopedilum fairieanum, Paphiopedilum venustum and Vanda coerulea) will be submerged by the reservoir. The project will also impact aquatic species; the dam will block the breeding migration of several endangered fish species.

The Expert Appraisal Committee for River Valley and Hydropower Projects (EAC) which gives Environmental Clearance to dam projects in two stages has a flawless track record of 100% project clearance. Never in the past has this committee rejected a proposal, based on merits or for its irreversible environmental impacts. Nor has it recommended strict action against EIA agencies which churn out compromised, cut & paste EIA reports. SANDRP has pointed out several instances where projects have been started without environmental clearance and at times even finished, but the EAC does not seem particularly bothered.

In its upcoming meeting on the 4th June, just a day ahead of World Environment Day, the EAC will discuss 3097 MW Etalin HEP by Jindal Power also in Dibang valley in Arunachal Pradesh, which is set to submerge 1165.6 hectares of forest. The EIA of this project has been remarkably poor in recording the rich biodiversity of the region. SANDRP has pointed this out to the EAC. For the region where species like Tiger are recorded, the EIA study mentions only 45 mammal species. This region is being marked for its importance even by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

The Siang Basin Study conducted by RS Envirolinks Pvt Limited to understand the impacts of over 44 Hydropower dams in Basin which the EAC cleared in 2014, involves submergence of more than 18,000 hectares of virgin forests also in Arunachal. The regions is rich in orchids (more than 100 species!), holds 16 species of rhododendrons, 14 species of Bamboos and 14 species of canes and overall 27 RET species and 46 endemic plant species. 25 (18%) mammalian species found are Schedule I of WPA (Wildlife Protection Act), while 26 are under Schedule II! There are 447 species of birds, of which 31 are Schedule I species. The single basin consists of 5 Important Bird Areas!! (IBAs)[7]

The Subansiri Basin Study done by IRG System South Asia to study impact of over 19 dams in this basin, does not even mention the presence of Gangetic Dolphins in the river, which is India's National aquatic animal and will be severely impacted by the dam. Subansiri is one of the only tributaries of Brahmaputra with a resident population of the endangered Gangetic Dolphin (Baruah et al, 2012, Grave Danger for the Ganges Dolphin (Platanista ganegtica) in the Subansiri River due to large Hydroelectric Project).

There is no consolidated estimation of the impact of all the dams in Arunachal on rare and endangered species or their migratory routes or the biodiverse habitats in the downstream including the Memorial D Erring Sanctuary, where Lower Siang HEP and all the projects in the upstream will lead to water level fluctuation of more than 22 feet in a single day[8]! Most of the aquatic as well as riparian species are sensitive to flow changes, but so far there has been no study to understand the impacts of water level fluctuation, peaking, damming, erosion and changes in silt pattern, etc., on any species, before clearing these projects. Similarly, the impacts of peaking of all these projects on Dibru Saikhowa National Park in Assam, which is a habitat of the critically endangered Bengal Florian, Gangetic Dolphin and a number of RET species is again left to imagination.

In case of 780 MW Nyamjang Chhu Hydropower project in Tawang basin in Arunachal Pradesh, the EIA did not even mention that the dam site itself was at the breeding and wintering grounds of Black Necked Cranes, which are not only rare, but worshipped by local Buddhist Monpa Communities. No questions were asked either by the EAC or the MoEF about this omission. Environmental Clearance was granted to this project without considering these aspects. It is only now that Tawang Basin Study, of which Nyamjangchhu is an important tributary, is mentioning this issue strongly. Will the MoEF and CC act on it or will the recommendation be stifled?

In case of Uttarakhand, a state with an unprecedented flood of hydropower projects and associated tunneling, blasting and disasters, Wildlife Institute of India had clearly recommended way back in 2012 dropping 24 HEPs in Alaknanda-Bhagirathi basin being planned and constructed, for their irreversible impacts on land and aquatic biodiversity and protected areas. This recommendation was also upheld in 2014 by the Committee (headed by Dr. Ravi Chopra) appointed under Supreme Court orders following the Uttarakhand Disaster in June 2013. The MoEF did not act on this report,  and even presented contradictory affidavits on this report to the Hon. Supreme Court and the PMO itself has pressurized that 24 projects cannot be dropped. Even the IIT Consortium, working on Ganga River Basin Management Plan gave an ambiguous report to push these projects! These projects are affecting even protected areas like Valley of Flowers, Nandadevi Biosphere Reserve, etc. Same is the case with Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

Why are biodiversity issues so chronically neglected in our river governance?

It is darkly ironical to note that erstwhile Environment Minister Jayanti Natarajan pushed Wildlife Clearance for Lower Demwe Dam[11] in Arunachal even when its impacts on Dibru Saikhowa National Park were not completely studied, stating that such studies should be carried out "Concurrently" with dam construction! The present regime has gone a step further. The Environments Clearance letter of Dibang issued four days back (19th May 2015), which did not pay heed to critical issue raised by several groups, has stated that a study on downstream impact and ecosystem has to be undertaken "5 years after commissioning of the project". Needless to say, no comprehensive downstream impact assessment for Dibang has been carried out before issuing this EC letter.

There is a member from the National Biodiversity Authority, formed under the National Biodiversity Act 2002 at all times in the EAC on River Valley Projects. Till now, we have not seen a single project being rejected because of its impacts on biodiversity. In fact, biodiversity issues are not even discussed in the EAC minutes. As per the National Biodiversity Act 2002 (Section 4), the National Biodiversity Authority or the Central government is empowered to conduct biodiversity impact assessment and public hearing for projects which endanger biodiversity, but it has never done that in the past! In effect, there has been no Biodiversity Impact Assessment of any dam projects till date.

The National Board for Wildlife, through its Standing Committee recommends Wildlife Clearance to projects within Protected Areas, or within 10 kms radius of Protected Areas. The constitution of Wildlife Board was by the new government has made the Board ineffectual. The New National Board for Wildlife constituted by the government included only a fraction of members against the clear provision of this Law. It has no NGO representation, only 2 experts in place of 10 and incomplete state representation. Despite huge opposition to this blatantly illegal constitution, the NBWL conducted its first meeting and cleared almost all projects before it, including Teesta IV Hydropower project in Sikkim. Shockingly, the members from the earlier NBWL had actually visited the region and had prepared an extensive report on violations by Teesta IV as well as other HEPs in Sikkim which encroached in various protected areas of the State. But the new NBWL did not even mention this report while clearing the project! In tandem, the ministry severely reduced Eco-sensitive zoning around Protected Areas in Sikkim, leaving it to mere 25 meters in most cases![13] Incidentally, Sikkim is the most species-rich state in the country, which is facing the maximum impact of hydropower dams by private and government dam lobby.

The NBWL is still in project clearing spree, having cleared Shirapur Lift Irrigation Project in its latest 33rd meeting in March 2015. The Shirapur project cuts right through the habitat of critically endangered Great Indian Bustard (it will take 93 hectares of the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary itself), despite the fact that the scheme had violated Wildlife Protection Act 1986, is half-complete already and is remarkably unviable!

In the 33rd Meeting, the NBWL also sanctioned one more water abstraction project inside the National Chambal Sanctuary, a 26 MLD Chambal Bundi Water Supply project despite the fact that Wildlife Institute of India had issued a strict warning against any further abstraction of water from the sanctuary, looking at its impact of critically endangered Ghariyal.

The Forest Advisory Committee, instituted under the Forest Conservation Act (1974) does not consider biodiversity issues while sanctioning forest diversion for projects. It has already issued a Stage I Forest clearance to the controversial Dibang Hydropower Project, bowing down to the pressures from Power Ministry and higher offices after rejecting it several times.

Similar is the case with Western Ghats where the Ministry shockingly rejected Western Ghats Expert Ecology Report by Prof. Madhav Gadgil. This was preceded by efforts of hiding the report as long as possible. In the meantime, the EAC considered and recommended 220 MW Gundia HEP in Western Ghats of Karnataka, despite a poor EIA by Karnataka Power Corporation Limited. The MoEF&CC has also stifled the Kasturirangan Committee report which was a severely diluted and flawed as compared to Gadgil Committee Report. In effect, Western Ghats does not have any protection from the Ministry at this time.

These are governance issues at a scale which can be hardly monitored by any single group. Actual issues related to compliance, implementation, people's participation are independent of these issues and just as stark. But it is unfortunate to see that environmental governance of rivers, at this moment does not place any value on the biodiversity supported by rivers. One exception is the report on Environmental Flows recently brought out by the Ministry of Water Resources which at least attempts to give some importance to ecological integrity of rivers.[15] This report needs to be implemented urgently.

Instead the government is pushing ill conceived project like the Ken Betwa River Link project that will not only submerge 4600 ha of Panna tiger Reserve, destroy the Ken Ghariyal Sanctuary in the downstream and thus also affected habitat of some rare and endangered fish species, destroy the habitat of rare and endangered vulture species, all for projects that have almost no justification.

In India, as in the world, biodiversity is closely linked with human well-being, livelihoods, cultural values and even mitigation of Climate Change. Riverine fish like Hilsa (Tenuolsa ilisha) are not only important for their biodiversity values, but are an important source of protein and livelihoods for millions of fishermen, who are today impacted by dams. Mahseer is not only an endangered fish as per the Wildlife Protection Act, it is also worshipped as a reincarnation of Vishnu in riverine fish sanctuaries. Black Necked Cranes are not only a rare specie, but believed to be a reincarnation of the 6th Dalai Lama by Monpa tribes, Khangchengdzonga National Park is not only a Protected Area as per the law, it is also a sacred mountain for the Sikkimese, Free flowing rivers, mangrove forests, riparian zones are not only an abstract value, but a robust mitigation measure against climate change. It's not for nothing that Biodiversity is referred to as a "Fundamental building block for Sustainable Development".

But in the race for short sighted projects in terms of irrigation dams, Hydropower projects, water diversion schemes, Interlinking schemes, embankments, riverfront development and even ill conceived "River Cleaning" drives, biodiversity values and all those who depend on it are suffering. The statement brought out by India's Environment Minister Prakash Javdekar on this day[17]says the same old things and provides no new direction. Perhaps the new direction lies with the people themselves.

(The report has been compiled by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People)


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