GUWAHATI, Jan 27 (NNN): Beijing has a reason to show Arunachal Pradesh as part of China on online maps; it wants the northeastern state. An Indian PSU also seems to have a reason for using Beijing-endorsed maps to push a controversial mega dam in the private sector.
Water and Power Consultant Services (WAPCOS), an undertaking under the Union Water Resources Ministry has in its environment impact assessment (EIA) for a dam used Google maps showing Arunachal as part of China. This has irked local groups in the state’s East Siang district, particularly with New Delhi locked in a diplomatic battle with Beijing over the stapled visa issue.
The Congress government in Arunachal had in an investment-attracting spree awarded the 2700MW Lower Siang Hydro Electric Project (LSHEP) to Jaypee Arunachal Power Limited (JAPL), a subsidiary of the Jaypee Group. The project is expected to come up on river Siang at Bodak village in East Siang district. Siang, flowing down from Tibet, is one of the three rivers that form the Brahmaputra in Assam downstream. Under pressure to hold a public hearing ‘“ must for major power and industrial projects involving displacement JAPL assigned asked WAPCOS to undertake the EIA. The latter came out with its report in October last year but the Google map goof-up wasn’t noticed until it was uploaded on the website of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
‘MoEF rejected the EIA and removed the report from its site after we protested,’ said Maksup Yomso, president of local ethno-green group Forum for Siang Dialogue (FSD). ‘But what we want is exemplary punishment for those responsible for this treason against the integrity of our country. We, the people of Arunachal, will never tolerate anyone, least of all an Indian government agency in collusion with a private company, to tamper with the map of our state.’ The FSD is unhappy that memorandums sent to the President, Prime Minister, ministers concerned, Central security and investigative agencies besides local authorities have failed to nail the ‘betrayers of India’s territorial integrity’. It also said the goof-up underscored how seriously the government takes EIA reports.
The New Delhi-based Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Mountain and Hill Environment (CISMHE) has also earned the wrath of local Adi tribal people for insulting and trivializing their customs and traditions. JAPL had also roped in CISMHE to prepare a social impact assessment study vis-Ã -vis LSHEP.
The CISMHE report has erroneously attributed polyandry ‘“ practice allowing a woman to have multiple husbands as opposed to polygamy ‘“ to the Adi tribe. If that were not enough, it says Adi women prefer marriage by abduction. ‘We are looking into the pros and cons of the issue,’ said East Siang deputy commissioner Onit Panyang.