31 October, 2020

The Damned Brahmaputra

Hydrodollars-in-spate may choke off the artery to a whole region

Illustration by Sorit
The Damned Brahmaputra

On August 11, the theatre of the absurd came to Tezu, headquarters of the Lohit district in Arunachal Pradesh. A public hearing, as required by environment laws, was organised that day to discuss with the locals the impact of the 1,750 MW Lower Demwe dam, being built by Athena Power Pvt Ltd. It was notable for its meaninglessness, since the report on the environmental impact of the 10 proposed mega-dams in the Lohit basin will be ready only in December. Without the report, the hearing was an exercise in futility. Yet the district administration unilaterally declared that “elaborate environmental management plans” were presented and “95 per cent of the people welcomed the project to see the light of development in this backward district”. What was going on?

The northeastern edge of India ranks among the wildest, most gorgeous parts of the country. This is where the Tsangpo cleaves its way south from Tibet, gathering the waters of several tributaries before announcing itself as the mighty Brahmaputra. As the rivers...



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