Tawang hydel project gets MoEF approval

Within days of China announcing three new hydroelectric projects on the Brahmaputra river and catching India by surprise, the Centre has set the ball rolling to build the strategic Tawang hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh.

The 800-MW power project proposed to be built on the Tawang Chu river has got forest clearance, with the Environment Ministry waiving the cumulative impact assessment for stage-I clearance that it was earlier insisting.

While the project proposal had been discussed at two meetings of the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) in April and September last year, it was felt that a comprehensive study was needed to assess the cumulative impact of the projects planned in the Tawang basin before the projects are considered for clearance.

The FAC has also cleared the Along-Kaying-Tato road in West Siang district, noting the strategic importance of the road for the Indian Army and its need to ease communication for the local population.

The FAC also approved the 520-MW Teesta stage IV hydro electric project in Sikkim and infrastructure development proposed by the Army in the West Kemeng district of Arunachal Pradesh.

With the state and the Centre now raising the pitch in favour of the projects, the FAC cleared the project at a meeting on January 21-22. Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had also met Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan and had suggested the cumulative study on the Tawang basin be delinked from stage-I forest clearance a proposal backed by the state government as well.

The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation that will be setting up the hydel project has submitted before the FAC that the state government has already identified the organisations that will carry out the basin study and a MoU will soon be signed.

NHPC has also informed the FAC that the issue of environmental flow has also been addressed through the commitment it has made in its environment management plan to assure minimum flow of 10 cumcc in the lean season.

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