The National Green Tribunal has given its nod to construction of 2,880 MW Dibang Multipurpose Project (DMP) in Lower Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh.
The Project is being undertaken by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), which is the biggest producer of hydro-electricity in India. It envisages construction of 278 mtrs high concrete gravity dam across Dibang river, for flood moderation and power generation. 115 families of 5 villages are likely to be displaced, and 744 families of 39 villages are likely to be affected due to acquisition of land required for the project. At the time of its future completion, it will be India's largest dam and the world's tallest concrete gravity dam, standing 288 metres (945 ft) tall.
The NGT Bench comprising Judicial Members: Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Justice Jawad Rahim and Justice SP Wangdi, and Technical Member: Dr. Nagin Nanda opined that while the concerns raised before it are relevant, they have already been taken care of.
“Upon perusal of the minutes of the EAC meeting, and the various reports placed before us we find that adequate studies and steps had been undertaken to ensure sustainable implementation of the project…
…Multiple individual experts, expert bodies and institutions have expressed their opinion after undertaking detailed scientific and technical studies which we find difficult to brush aside in the absence of better materials which the Appellant have failed to place,” it observed.
The Tribunal was hearing appeals filed by two Assam residents challenging the Environmental Clearance (EC) granted by the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change in February 2015 for construction of the project. They had raised various issues against the dam, including the seismic sensitivity in the area and its impact on biodiversity.
The NGT, however, opined that the concerns raised by the appellants had already been examined and dealt with comprehensively, as required under Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notifications and guidelines.
“The impugned EC further reveals that stringent conditions have been imposed in as much as there are 15 specific and 21 general conditions stipulated. Every aspect of environment and ecology likely to be affected by the projects quite evidently have been considered and measures prescribed for mitigation on the basis of the detailed studies carried out in the EIA and the proposals made in the EMP [Environmental Management Plan],” it observed.
The EC was, therefore, upheld. Before parting, the court directed that the conditions laid down in the impugned EC should be scrupulously complied with. This, it said, will be overseen by the monitoring committee through periodical field visits.
Senior Advocate A. Mariarputham appeared for NHPC, along with Advocates Avneesh Arputham and Geetanjali. The appellants were represented by Advocate Sanjay Upadhyay, and the State was represented by Advocate ADN Rao.