Guwahati: A group of activists from Assam have brought onto notice the kind of unwarranted actions the Regional Empowered Committee (REC) is mulling, pertaining to recommendation for ‘hurried’ Subansiri Reserve Forest clearance, to set-up two transmission lines through the RF (Reserve Forest). A ‘give and take policy’ is being undertaken on the part of REC, in which the latter is awaiting for a ‘gift’ in the form of a Toyota Innova car from the Power Grid department.
Activists from Assam had brought to the notice of the REC before a meeting that the proposals for forest diversion of the two power lines were faulty and should be examined after detailed cumulative impacts of both power lines along with forest land already diverted for 2000 MW Subansiri Lower in the biodiversity-rich Subansiri RF. The area is part of Dulung – Subansiri elephant corridor and Subansiri Important Bird Area but application failed to mention this.
Meanwhile, the Subansiri Lower power transmission lines through Subansiri RF have been hurriedly recommended for forest clearance by Regional Empowered Committee, Guwahati, on condition that PowerGrid donates a Toyota Innova to Environment Ministry office in Guwahati.
The decision was taken by REC Guwahati in its meeting held on 2nd November 2021.
REC asked for a post-clearance site inspection by Chief Wildlife Warden, Assam, instead of asking for study prior to examining the proposal for forest clearance.
Instead of studying impacts on this rich wildlife habitat, REC was in a hurry to get a Toyota Innova for the Guwahati office of Environment Ministry, stated the activists.
In one of its letter to the chairperson of REC, an activist highlighted the impact the two transmission lines through the RF will have on forests and wildlife in Subansiri RF, Subansiri IBA and Dulung. The activist group also urged the REC to seek proper consent of local communities under FRA, 2002 for infrastructure projects, especially considering increasing human – elephant conflict in the larger landscape.
The Subansiri RF is in the midst of a rich biodiversity zone and part of contiguous forests comprising Kakoi, Dulung and Subansiri RFs in Assam and Tale Valley sanctuary, Tale RF and Panir RF of Arunachal Pradesh.
More specifically, the Subansiri RF and Dulung RF together comprise the Subansiri important Bird area identified by the BNHS as per international criteria. Other than being habitat of a wide range of important wildlife species, the area is habitat of elephants and the Dulung – Subansiri elephant corridor is an important elephant corridor across the Subansiri river in the region.