ABOUT THE UPDATE Apologies for the delay in bringing out this fifth issue of the Update covering mostly the months of May and June 2002. The Update is being brought out by SANDRP with a hope that it will become a medium of useful information dissemination & interaction. The Update has been produced mainly from media sources, both from internet and printed editions and also from official websites and networks. We would be happy to know your responses and suggestions about the Update.
The Update will be available both in electronic (text and word versions) and printed versions. The Updates are also available at www.narmada.org/sandrp and www.janmanch.org/newsletters.
The suggested minimum annual contribution for the Updates is Rs. 100/-, which would cover the cost of printing and mailing. Please send your check/ DD in favour of YUVA, payable at Mumbai and send it to our Delhi address. For checks from banks outside Mumbai, please add Rs. 15/- for outstation check charges.
CONTACT INFORMATION: Himanshu Thakkar, Bipin Chandra, Ganesh Gaud, South Asia Network on Dams, River and People (A YUVA Project), C/o 53B, AD Block, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi 110 088. India. Ph: 747 9916. Email: email@example.com Web: www.narmada.org/sandrp
Comments on the Biodiversity aspects of Environmental Impact Assessments of
GENERAL EIA reports are supposed to be very important documents depending upon which the HEPs actually take off. A major HEP has the potentiality to seriously harm biodiversity as well as socio-cultural life in an area and ultimately become an ecological disaster. We do not need such projects at the sites where it could cause serious damage to biodiversity, human habitations (there seems to be no logic to provide power to a section of people by uprooting another section of people!) and potential threat to humanity in general in earthquake prone areas. It is expected that EIA reports would be prepared with the best available knowledge and by engaging right-type of people.
However, the Kameng and Subansari EIAs are very carelessly written, mostly by people with no previous field experience in the area, have a lot of incorrect data. It is often alleged that the reports are being ‘managed’ and ‘manipulated’ in favour of the projects.
The two EIAs have all the discrepancies noted above. In fact such reports cause harm to the projects because even if everything is all right at the ground, the quality of reports make the society to suspect the projects.
The main potential damage done by a HEP is in the submergence area, dam site, powerhouse site, residential complex site, and the road-construction sites. It is in these areas that maximum impact is felt. But most reports have diluted everything by covering the entire catchment area and putting lot of data from those areas, which are otherwise irrelevant or scarcely relevant.
The EIA of KAMENG HEP was done by Agricultural Finance Corp. Ltd, Mumbai for North-Eastern Electric Power Corporation.
Salient features 2 dams, Bichom Dam at 4 km downstream of the confluence of Bichom and Digien rivers (27º17´54”N, 92º37´39”E). Tenga Dam is S of Gohainthan village and is at 16.5 km downstream of Jamiri Gauge & discharge site (27º13´46”N, 92º40´07”E).
96.5 m high and 200 m long Bichom Dam’s diverted flow will be picked up by Tenga Dam, 60.5 m high and 140 m long, ultimately diverted to 600 MW Kimi Power House. Estimated cost Rs 586 crores at 1982-3 price level.
Reservoirs: Bichom 300 Ha; Tenga reservoir 70 Ha.
60 Ha of Tenga RF will need diversion. Powerhouse will cover 45 Ha of Tenga RF. 650 Ha of USF will also need diversion.
SPECIFIC COMMENTS (Vol. I only)
• P xvi Para 11 of Executive summary. Very casually written. There are many more snake species found in the area. What species of Pit Viper and Pythons were recorded? Monal Pheasant is not found in the area. What is Civet cat? Is it Large Indian civet or Small Indian civet or Palm civet or Masked palm civet or Small toothed palm civet? Because NE India has all these. We have not yet heard of any animal called “Hill boar” nor are there any record with the Zoological Survey of India. Are Red panda, Pangolin and Porcupine “herbivorous” animals? I think this is too much. Did they attempt ‘reclassification’ of mammalians where carnivores such as Red panda and rodents (porcupines) could be clubbed as herbivores? Although the authors have mentioned of concurrence of ZSI, I doubt because ZSI can never accord herbivore status to carnivores and rodents.
• p. xvi. Para 12 of Executive summary. The powerhouse construction activities, development of 28 km-long road from Khuppi to Kimi and the labourers’ camps will be a major threat to Pakhui Sanctuary. During my visit to the area in January 2002, I found that the road labourers are already snaring Red Junglefowl, Kaleej Pheasant, Peacock-pheasant, Rufous-throated Hill Partridge and Common Hill Partridge in a big way (they set up crude snares everyday). Already the meat of Serow and Muntjak have been tasted by them. The road development also includes felling.
• p.19. Para 2. After the confluence of rivers Bichom and Tenga, the river is known as Bichom and not as Kameng. It is only near Bana that Bichom merges with Kameng. The source of Kameng river is in East Kameng district. Such serious errors on the major rivers in an EIA of a river-valley project, that too relating to the most important river itself is surprising!
• p.84. para 2, last line. Pakhui was never a “Game” Sanctuary. This shows that the persons who compiled this EIA are not aware of the difference between a “Game” and a “Wildlife” sanctuary!
• p.108. last para. The figure of 17 birds in such a hot spot is not only ridiculous but shows lack of both home and fieldwork. Any pocket in that area will have at least 150 species of birds occurring at different times of the year.
• p.109. para 1. 4th line. There is no state road that connects Bhalukpong with Seijosa. In fact, there is no direct road link between these two places till now. How can it be carelessly put like that? Regarding the use of words ‘deeper part’ where the animals are supposed to move if the powerhouse site is disturbed, one should remember that all the animals can not remain confined to ‘deeper part’ alone and if one by one more projects come up there will be no ‘deeper part’ left.
• Annexure 3.12. List of common fauna. It is difficult to comment on this list. There are many school students in Assam who would write a better and a correct list.
How the Golden cat could be listed as ‘common’ when it is rare all over its range? Interestingly, actual common lesser cats like the Leopard cat and Jungle cat were not even listed.
Manis crassicaudata and Hystrix indica do not occur in the entire NE India (except for a few reports from western Assam), how these could occur in the project sites?
The area has globally threatened species such as Rufous-necked Hornbill and Beautiful Nuthatch, which should have figured.
LOWER SUBANSIRI HEP, Arunachal Pradesh & Assam