Violation of Indigenous Peoples rights to Free, Prior and Informed Consent

 
 

The communities to be affected by the series of dam projects are indigenous peoples in their own land and territories and has not been consulted widely and their consent not taken with due respect of their rights over their land and resources. The absence of Free, Prior and Informed Consent of affected indigenous peoples is also evident in the series of protest against Hydroelectric Projects in Tawang.

Thousands of affected people held a protest rally against the construction of proposed mega hydro projects, including Tsa Chu II in Tawang on 4 April 2012 . The Save Mon Committee (SMC) which organized the protest expressed strong objections to the proposed mega dam project reasoning that the Tsa chu II dam along with series of other dams, total fifteen (15) in number to be build in Tawang District will completely destroy the beautiful landscape, flora and fauna and cause wide displacement of thousands of people residing along the Tsa Chu River.

Among the total 148 Memorandum of Agreements (MoA) on Dam projects signed by the Arunachal Pradesh Government till July 2011, fifteen (15) Projects with more than 3500 MW are in Tawang District. Moreover, these MoAs has been condemned for its lack of transparency and corruption.

The efforts of project authorities to pursue the project without peoples’ participation and consent itself constitute a serious violation of the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent of indigenous peoples (FPIC) affected by mega dams, a key provision of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007, endorsed by the Government of India in its adoption at the United Nations in 2007.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had asked the Government of India in 2007 and 2011 to take FPIC of indigenous peoples before construction of mega dams in India’s North East , which is blatantly violated by the project authority of the Tsa Chu Project II.

No Cumulative Impact Assessment and Flouting World Commission on Dams Recommendations.

Social and Cultural impacts

The local indigenous peoples will be decimated due to the influx of migrant workers from other parts of India, which will further have a wide ranging impact on small local indigenous populations on their subsistence economy. The Tawang District has only 49,950 people as per 2011 census in an area of 2085 sq km. Each Dam building requires more than 2000 to 3000 workers and with fifteen dams planned in Tawang, dam workers will completely overwhelm the local indigenous populations, which will have a serious health, cultural and social impacts as well due to influx of migrant workers.

These dams building will also lead to more militarization of the area which will further add pressures to land rights. The economic benefits to locals as claimed by the project authority is again irrational as the actual benefits will go to the dam developers and other companies, which provides equipments for the Tsa Chu II HEP, such as construction company and the turbine companies etc.

Many holy and sacred sites are also situated along the River Basin of Tsa Chu, Tawang Chu and Nyamjangchu like- centuries old 200 feet span iron chain suspension bridge at Chaksam, hot water springs, Hromang/Surbi village pilgrimage site; centuries old Gorsam Chorten Stupa, Zemithang and Gomshing near Bletteng village etc.

In Mon Tawang Region, the local people believed that transcendental deities, eminent local deities and spirits make their abodes in mountains, valleys, cliffs, trees etc. There are also many holy Mountain Sites at Rho village. The Tsa Chu II and other Hydro Electric Projects in Tawang will lead to disastrous consequences for the people and ecology of the Region. The PDD submitted by the project authority has failed to highlight these socio-cultural impacts.

Undermining Emissions from Tsa Chu II HEP

The project authorities falsely mentioned repeatedly in the PDD that the Tsa Chu II HEP is an emission free project reasoning that it is a renewable project and a fossil fuel free project. Several Studies worldwide have already confirmed that mega dams are one of the worst emitters of Green House Gases (GHGs). Range of emissions, such as the emission from dam reservoir due to submergence of forests, the emissions due to boring of tunnels and the emission from sudden release of water from power houses, emissions due to numerous vehicles to be used in the construction of reservoirs and boring of tunnels, emission due to felling of trees and destruction of forest by numerous dam workers etc are not taken into consideration and completed omitted deliberately in the PDD submitted by the project proponent.