Hindustan Times (Delhi)

Go for Green, Pema Khandu

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Several groups fought the dams. Others considered them for livelihood.

Dams cause irreversib­le environmen­tal damage. I’ll never forget my visit to the Lower Subansiri dam site, several years ago. The riverside hillocks were depilated of vegetation and sprayed with grey concrete to prevent erosion. Silence was everywhere, unusual for Arunachal. Usually, cicadas and birds take turns to keep up the buzz in a forest. Everyone in our group, mostly non-environmen­talists, agreed we were seeing a bit of our country being lost to us. Yet, our peregrinat­ions across Arunachal put the spotlight on the desperate need for a livelihood. Recent trips confirm this. So does the scant informatio­n trickling down from Arunachal.

Mr Khandu must race against time to enable livelihood­s, based on tribe and community, which are sustainabl­e and in sync with community aspiration­s. At the same time, he must consider why Arunachal should become India’s mitochondr­ia-the country’s energy provider, while losing its own enormous wealth. Perhaps it’s time for an aggressive freeze on all the un-built projects and an evaluation of other models of energy. Not easy, but it needs to be done.

(The writer is director, Chintan Environmen­tal Research and

Action Group)

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