By Nivedita Khandekar.New Delhi/Guwahati : , In an unusual example of “quid proquo”, an Environment Ministry Agency has requested a Toyota Innova vehicle in place of recommending the clearing of forest land for transmission lines through the reserved forest to extract power from the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh hydropower project.
Not just this, against the conventional practice of asking beforehand for a study about an elephant corridor in the area, from where the diversion of the forest was needed, a post-clearance site inspection report by the Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam has also been sought.This is in addition to the traditional practice of asking for an investigation about the elephant corridor within the area from which the diversion was required.
A post-clearance report of the Chief Wildlife Warden (Assam) has been requested.
And this is not the first time that the Regional Empowered Committee (REC) under the Integrated Regional Office (IRO) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has asked for a vehicle from what is called the user Agency, i.e., the Agency that is seeking forest clearance for an infrastructure project.This isn’t the first request by the Regional Empowered Committee under the Integrated Regional Office of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for a vehicle.It is the one that seeks forest clearing for an infrastructure project.
The Power Grid Corporation of India had sought diversion of 34.32 hectares of forest land for the construction of a 400 KV transmission line from NHPC Ltd’s 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Electric Project at Gerukhamukh to Biswanath Chariali in Subansiri reserve forest under the Dhemaji division in Assam.Power Grid Corporation of India sought to divert 34.32 hectares of forestland for construction of a 400KV transmission line.It would be constructed from NHPC Ltd’s 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Electric Project in Gerukhamukh, to Biswanath Chariali under Subansiri reserve forest in Assam.
This is an area along the Assam-Arunachal border with the hydropower project just inside the Arunachal side, but on the border.
It is located along the Assam–Arunachal border, with the hydropower plant just inside the Arunachal section.However, it borders.
The total length of the transmission line is 7,463 metre and 23 towers are expected to be passing through three districts of Dhemaji, Lakhimpur and Biswanath.It will run 7,463 metres in length and the 23 towers will pass through the three districts of Dhemaji and Lakhimpur.
The proposal mentioned that the enumerated number of trees is 7,987, but the actual number of trees to be felled is 1,041.Although the proposal stated that 7,987 trees were enumerated, the real number is 1,041.
The REC meeting on November 2 had discussed the proposal wherein it was mentioned that the proposed area is 187 km from the nearest boundary of Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.On November 2, the REC met to discuss the proposal.
It was noted that the area proposed is 187km from Dibru-Saikhowa National Park’s nearest border.When the REC asked about the presence of an elephant corridor in the proposed alignment, the Assam Forest Department official informed that no such information was submitted.
The official from Assam Forest Department answered REC’s question about whether there was an elephant corridor within the alignment.
The REC then sought a site inspection report from the Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam with respect to the presence of an elephant corridor in the proposed alignment.
The REC requested a report of the Chief Wildlife Warden in Assam on the site to determine if there was an elephant corridor within the alignment.The minutes of the meeting also show that the user Agency — here the Power Grid Corporation of India — agreed to follow the necessary measures imposed/suggested by the Chief Wildlife Warden if there is indeed an elephant corridor.
Also, the minutes of this meeting show that Power Grid Corporation of India was the authorized user to take the required measures as suggested by the Chief Wildlife Warden in the event of an elephant corridor.
The measures would include increasing the height of the transmission line.
These measures include raising the height of transmission lines.
After thorough deliberation and discussions with the Chief Conservator of Forests, Assam, the REC recommended the proposal for diversion of 34.32 hectares of forest land with two special conditions apart from the other usual ones.The REC, after extensive deliberation, and discussion with Assam’s Chief Conservator for Forests recommended diversion of 34.32 hectares forest land under two conditions.
The first condition was the site inspection report from the Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam in respect of the presence of an elephant corridor in the proposed alignment along with the names of all Schedule I species with appropriate mitigation measures.
First, the Chief Wildlife Warden for Assam submitted a site inspection report indicating the existence of an elephant corridor along with names and mitigation steps.The second one, as per the minutes of the meeting, was: “The user Agency, Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, will provide one vehicle (preferably Toyota Innova) to the Integrated Regional Office, Guwahati, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, for monitoring of projects in Assam and other official purposes.”.According to minutes of the meeting, the second condition was “The Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, a user Agency, will supply one vehicle (preferably a Toyota Innova) for the Integrated Regional Office, Guwahati, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, in Assam, for the monitoring of Assam’s projects and other official purposes.”
The REC also mentioned the post-clearance condition of a report about elephant corridor for another proposal of diverting 32.78 hectares of forest land for transmission lines of the same project by the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited.The REC mentioned also the post-clearance conditions of a report on elephant corridor to support another proposal of diverting 32.78 hectares of forestland for transmission lines of this project by Power Grid Corporation of India Limited.
Incidentally, in an earlier such meeting, when the REC considered a proposal from 2019, again for diversion of forest land for laying transmission line from Likabali to Niglok in Arunachal Pradesh, it had demanded a vehicle (again, preferably Toyota Innova) for the North Eastern Regional Office of the Environment Ministry in Shillong.Interestingly, at an earlier meeting the REC had considered a request from 2019 for diversion forest land to lay transmission lines from Likabali in Arunachal Pradesh.
It also demanded a vehicle, preferably a Toyota Innova, for the North Eastern Regional Office for the Environment Ministry (Sillong).
In that case, the government of Arunachal Pradesh had conveyed that being the implementing Agency, the Power Grid Corporation of India “had also provided hired vehicle before and will do so for monitoring of projects in Arunachal Pradesh to IRO, Guwahati, if and when required”.
The government of Arunachal Pradesh stated that the Power Grid Corporation of India had previously provided a hired vehicle and would continue to do so in the event of a need.
With this assurance, the REC revoked the condition during its November 2 meeting .The REC gave this assurance and revoked that condition at its November 2 meeting.
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