The Forest Advisory Committee, the apex body of the Environment Ministry tasked with deciding whether forest land can be diverted for industrial projects, has once again deferred its decision on a controversial hydropower project in Arunachal Pradesh.
FAC is the apex body of the Environment Ministry tasked with deciding whether forest land can be diverted for industrial projects.
Key expert panels of environment ministry have deferred decisions on other projects as well including Mumbai Port Trust’s marina project, 2,400 MW of Talabira thermal power project in Jharsuguda, Odisha, and exploration of uranium in Amrabad Tiger Reserve in Telangana.
All due to emerging ecological concerns, questions on viability, and inadequate information on tables to take a final call.
The 3097 MW Etalin Hydropower project, in the State’s Dibang Valley, has been delayed for over six years. This is because it required diverting 1165 hectares of forest in a region of rich biodiversity.
The FAC also referred to the issue of its viability, considering a change in India’s energy plan. It also took note of a fact that a large number of hydro-electric projects are still pending in different states due to environmental and forest clearance concerns.
“Deference is not the same as scrapping the project so environmentalists will be watching FAC’s every move closely. Considering that FAC has accepted the report of WII in toto it seems that the Etalin project is moving in the same direction as the Hubballi-Ankola Railway project which was also approved eventually on the basis of a sole controversial report prepared by IISC, Bangalore”, said Kailash Anerao, an environmentalist.