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Protests at Large Dams in China

Tawang district, which is situated at 10,000 feet above sea-level in Arunachal Pradesh, erupted in protest on Saturday against large hydropower projects in the district bordering the Tibetan region of China.

Hundreds of Buddhist lamas and locals turned up at the Tawang parade ground, about 30km from the McMahon Line, carrying placards saying ‘no’ to large dams in the ‘ecologically, culturally and strategically’ sensitive district.

The protesters, under the banner of Save Mon Region Federation (SMRF), said large dams were being planned in the district that was reeling from frequent power cuts in the numbing cold, though it had 25-odd small and medium badly maintained hydropower projects. Under such circumstances, there would have been no need for dams to meet the district’s power requirement, SMRF contended.
The protest was peaceful. The group has been leading anti-dam protests in Tawang since 2012. The district was a theatre of the 1962 India-China War.

“These mini and small hydropower projects were meant to meet Tawang’s electricity needs. But these are not maintained properly for which we are facing power crisis. The government is planning large projects that are a detriment to our ecology and culture, though the small and mini projects are not functioning properly,” SMRF general secretary and lama Lobsang Gyatso said.

Gyatso said at least 13 large hydo-power projects are proposed for Tawang alone and alleged that some of the proposed projects would affect the Buddhist religious sites.

SMRF had filed a case in National Green Tribunal in 2012 against the project developer for the proposed 780-MW Nyamjang Chhu project. The project developer allegedly did not disclose, during environment clearance, that the project site was located close to the wintering habitat of black-necked cranes, said the SMRF complain.

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