Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Dam

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The proposed dam is likely to submerge forests

New Manipur dam may sink 227 sq km of forest

Nitin Sethi TNN 2013/07/06

The Times of India

New Delhi: The environment ministry will consider clearing a 300 sq km of forests for projects in the next meeting of its forest advisory committee (FAC), the statutory body which appraises projects that require forest land.

The proposals before the FAC include the controversial Tipaimukh hydroelectric dam which alone will require submergence of 227 sq km of prime forest land in Manipur that will destroy 82.47 lakh trees.

This is the second largest forest diversion ever asked for by a hydroelectric project in India. It involves vast swathes of forests and bamboo clumps on lands that are used by communities for shifting cultivation.

The project has been locked in controversy for years with Bangladesh too voicing concern about the project on Barak river.

The environment ministry records say, “Tipaimukh hydel project requires more than one-fifth of the total 118,184 hectares of forest land diverted for execution of 497 hydel projects in the entire country after the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 came into force. Requirement of 24,329 hectares of forest land for the project is the second largest for a single hydel project for which approval under the law has been sought so far.”

“The forest land required for the project is more than 100 times the average rate of diversion of forest land for 497 hydel projects for which approval under the FC Act has been accorded by the MoEF.”

In 2012, the FAC had decided to send a sub-committee with external experts to review the project. But the visit did not materialize.

Government says the area is home to endangered flora and fauna. The seniormost state forest official has noted, “No compensatory measure would help in mitigating the adverse impact caused by the loss of large forest tracts on the habitat, flora, fauna, biodiversity, micro-climate and environment unless additional nonforest areas in affected districts or adjoining districts are taken up for compensatory afforestation.”

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