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Environmental panel clears Simang I and II hydel projects in Arunachal Pradesh

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Economic Times
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A key environmental panel has recommended clearance for two hydel power projects in the Siang river valley in Arunachal Pradesh.
The two projects—Simang I and II totalling 133 MW—are located on the Simang, the right bank tributary of the Siang River. Projects in the Siang river basin are viewed as strategically important on account of the border with China. Adishankar Power Pvt Ltd is the project developer. 
The Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley and Hydroelectric Power Projects decided to recommend to the environment ministry that the two projects be cleared subject to requisite clearances from the National Wildlife Board, since Simang II is 6.4 km away from the Mouling National Park. 
The panel has asked the developer to revise the cost estimate of implementing the environmental management plan, as it found the figures submitted by it to be on the lower side. It has also suggested that environmental flows of the river should be in line with the recommendations of the Siang Basin study report for winter or lean, monsoon and non-lean and non-monsoon seasons. As of now, the Simang I and II hydro-power projects are the only projects on this river. 
The total land requirement for Simang I is 54.58 hectare, of which 32.74 hectare is forestland. The 18-metre barrage will result in a submergence of 15.5 hectare. 
Simang II, on the other hand, requires about 46.14 hectare of land, of which 26.75 hectare is forestland. The 18-metre barrage will result in a submergence of 10.57 hectare of land. 
Projects in the Siang river basin are seen as strategically important. The Yarlung Tsangpo is known as the Siang after it enters India in Arunachal Pradesh. This is what gives the Siang basin its strategic significance from an international point of view. 
The government considers developing the Siang basin important as it will not only help India counter Chinese build-up in the area but also strengthen its negotiating position with China. 
India and China have no water agreements. As a result, there is no structured international convention under which India can appeal should its lower riparian rights be affected by the power projects on the Tsangpo. 
In this context, developing the Siang basin provides India the best safeguard. As early as August 2010, the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying the environment ministry would ensure expeditious forest and environment clearances for all projects on river Siang without ignoring ecological concerns. 
Author: Sustainability Outlook