In a shocking development that may lead to environmental crisis in Arunachal Pradesh, water of Siang river in this northeastern state has turned black. The water has become muddy and cement-like because of massive construction by China of a 1000-km tunnel to divert waters of the Brahmaputra, claimed Congress MP Ninong Ering in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ering said in his letter that there is no other reason that the mighty Siang should be dirty and black in the month of November, and that this tragedy has come to pass due to heavy excavation on the Chinese side.
Ering said that the recent report of China constructing a tunnel 1,000 km long to divert the Siang (Brahmaputra) water to the Xinjiang province to the Taklamakan desert is likely to be true even as China had denied it. “After the report appeared, the river Siang has become muddy and slushy. It is already two months that the Siang has turned black and contaminated. It is an unusual phenomenon. The reason for the river getting dirty is unknown. I have already put questions for discussions in Parliament under rule 377. But since it is not in session, I am requesting you to use your good office to seek the reason of the river being muddy in this season when the water is crystal clear. Construction of a 600-km long tunnel has already started in the Yunnan province as a rehearsal,” Ering said in his letter.
Earlier, NITI Aayog had come out with a proposal to construct a single multi-purpose river valley project on the Siang river in Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. But in October the Siang Indigenous Farmers’ Forum (SIFF) had opposed the move and appealed the government to stop it in the larger interest of the tribal communities of the area.
“While we have been opposing the earlier proposed Siang Stage I and Siang Stage II hydel projects on the ground that those would displace hundreds of indigenous tribal families in the larger Siang region, the NITI Aayog is now bent upon wiping us out in the interest of producing power for people of other regions of the country. Our communities are small, and thus don’t appear to be important for the government and the NITI Aayog,” Tasik Pangkam, general secretary of the SIFF had said.
Opposition to the Siang single multi-purpose river valley project comes at a time when the construction work on the 2000-MW Lower Subansiri hydro-electric dam project has remained closed since December 2011 amid protests in downstream Assam.
Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu had said that opposition to hydro-electric projects in his state was fueled by narrow vested political interests and hence required adequate awareness programmes to dispel the fears. People in his state often fall prey to misinformation and thus carry a lot of negative notions about large dams, Khandu had said.