Nyamjang Chhu dam and hydropower expansion in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India

Protests against dams started in 2011. On 2 May 2016, two protesters lost their lives in police shooting, when they supported Buddhist monk Lama Lobsang Gyatso who is also "Save Mon Region Federation" secretary.


Description

Public protests against the construction of dams in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh in North East India have been going on for some years. In the whole state there are grandiose plans for 50 000 MW. Little of this has been yet built. On 2 May 2016 (as fully reported in The Wire and The Telegraph, 3 May) things took a deadly turn; during a demonstration calling for the release of arrested anti-hydropower movement leader Lama Lobsang Gytaso in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh state, two people were killed on the spot by indiscriminate and unannounced police firing. Unconfirmed media reports and a statement of the Save Mon Region Federation (SMRF), the organisation spearheading the protests, speak of four other victims who succumbed to their injuries later in the day, including one woman. Tawang is the last Indian district bordering China, a 2085 square km patch where in 1962 the Chinese army came trooping in. Tawang was historically part of Tibet. The 1914 Simla Accord defined the McMahon line as the new boundary between British India and Tibet. By this treaty Tibet relinquished several hundred square miles of its territory, including Tawang, to the British, but it was not recognised by China.  Tawang is home to the Monpa people, it is a tourist destination thanks to the well-preserved Tawang Monastery and a seat of Tibetan Buddhism.

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Basic Data
NameNyamjang Chhu dam and hydropower expansion in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceArunachal Pradesh
SiteTawang district
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Establishment of reserves/national parks
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project Details150 hydel projects planned for Arunachal Pradesh of which 13 in Tawang district.

National Green Tribunal stopped in April 2016 the environmental clearance of the 780 MW, Rs 6400 crore (above one billion USD) Nyamjang Chhu project in response to an appeal filed by the Save Mon Region Federation.
Level of Investment (in USD)1,000,000,000
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population10,000
Start Date01/01/2011
Company Names or State Enterprises LNJ Bhilwara Group from India
Relevant government actorsNational Green Tribunal

Local MP and Union Minister of State for Home

Chief Minister of the State of Arunachal Pradesh
International and Financial InstitutionsInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSave Mon Region Federation (SMRF)

Local Buddhist monks of Tawang monastery

Legal Initiative For Forest And Environment (LIFE)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Women
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
OtherLoss of endangered species (black necked crane)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths
Court decision (undecided)
Repression
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
On 2 May 2016, the 31-year-old Tsering Tempa was shot in the head and Nyima Wangdi, a 21-year-old Buddhist monk from the Tawang Monastery was shot twice.
Development of AlternativesPreservation of natural spaces and endangered against dams, reconsideration of the plans for too many hydroelectric dams (large and small) in Arunchal Pradesh.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.There has been repression against a leading Buddhist monk, and people have been shot dead. However, there has been positive ruling of the National Green Tribunal.
Sources and Materials
Links

The Wire, Police Firing, Hydel Projects Cast Long Shadow Over Arunachal’s Sensitive Tawang Region, BY SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY ON 03/05/2016, a full report
[click to view]

BBC news, Two killed in India border town police firing
[click to view]

Short article in The Indian Express
[click to view]

3 May 2018, news in The Hindu about the killings in Tewang
[click to view]

Short article in Business Standard, 3 May 2016
[click to view]

Extensive article in The Telegraph. Two die in police firing in Tawang, by Ranju Dodum and Pranab Kumar Das. May 2, 2016: At least two persons died and eight were injured when police opened fire on people protesting against the arrest of a Buddhist monk at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh today.
[click to view]

Facebook page of the Save Mon Region Federation
[click to view]

Media Links

Description of facts and complaint by the National Alliance of People's Movements
[click to view]

News of the events in International Rivers
[click to view]

Other Documents

Protesters gathered in front of Tawang police station before the police firing began on May 2. Credit: The Wire, by special arrangement
[click to view]

Save Mon Region Federation activists Save Mon Region Federation activists protesting against hydropower projects in Tawang. Source: sandrp.wordpress.com.
[click to view]

Meta Information
Last update26/05/2016
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