Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has cleared the way for two proposed mega hydel power projects in Lohit districts and Dibang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh.
• Deviating from recommendations made by statutory panels under the Environment Ministry, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has virtually cleared the Etalin hydel project in Dibang Valley and Lower Demwe hydel project in Lohit districts in Arunachal Pradesh, one of India’s most biodiverse landscapes.
• Arunachal Pradesh has the largest hydropower potential among the Himalayan states.
• According to government estimates, the Northeast India has a hydropower potential of around 63,000 MW, of which about 50,000MW is in Arunachal Pradesh. But less than 10% of the total potential has been harnessed.
Impact of Hydro Power Project:
• Biodiversity: The project will have harmful impacts downstream, especially on the floral grasslands and fauna (Asiatic wild buffalo and hog deer) of Dibru Saikhowa National Park and the chapories (riverine islands) of river Lohit.
• Both the areas are identified as Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International and are the remaining limited grassland habitats of the critically endangered Bengal Florican.
• Concerns Raised: There is wide spread concern over the observed and probable social and environmental impacts of these hydropower projects in the region.
• Strategic Environment Assessment: The mega biodiversity hotspot like the northeastern India, region warrants strategic environment assessment and cumulative impact assessment.
• Local Participation for impact assessment: A critical assessment should be conducted with involvement of local people to analyze the socio-economic and cultural life of people.
Wildlife Institute of India (WII)
• It is an autonomous institution of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India. It was established in 1982.
• It is an internationally acclaimed Institution, which offers training program, academic courses and advisory in wildlife research and management.
National Board for Wildlife (NBWL):
• It is created in 2003 under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
• The National Board for Wildlife has 47 members with the Prime Minister in the Chair. The Union Minister of Environment & Forests is the Vice-Chairperson.
• The Board is responsible for promotion of conservation and development of wildlife and forests.
• Earlier, there was Indian Board for Wildlife (IBWL) created in 1952.
Etalin Hydro Porejct:
• Etalin HEP is envisaged as a run of the river scheme on rivers Dri and Tangon in the Dibang Valley District of Arunachal Pradesh.
• The installed capacity of the project is 3097 MW as per the detailed project report.