Confusion over panel’s visit to Dibru-Saikhowa

 GUWAHATI, Feb 28 – Great confusion prevails over the visit of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park by the ‘Site Visit Committee’ constituted by the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (SCNBWL) to visit the 1,750-MW Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Power Project-related sites, including the important national park. It is feared that the national park would be bearing the brunt of the adverse impact of the project’s tampering with the Lohit river.The Site Visit Committee comprises RD Kamboj, Director, GEER Foundation, Dr Gopi GV, who is representing the Wildlife Institute of India and DP Bankhwal, Inspector General of Forests (IGF), National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Guwahati Regional Office.

The committee was scheduled to visit the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park today. But according to information available with this newspaper, the DFO of Tinsukia, who looks after the national park, is out of station when the committee was supposed to arrive at the park.

Tinsukia DFO MK Dhar has also been making confusing statements to the media and some other people on the scheduled visit of the committee to the national park. He told a section of the media yesterday that he was not aware of the committee’s scheduled visit to the park.

But today, he told this newspaper that he was fully aware of the visit of the committee to the national park. However, knowledgeable circles here said that he confided to some respectable people this morning that he was requested only today by one of the members of the committee to make accommodation for the committee members in the park.

Asked how the committee members would be able to go round the crucial areas of the national park without there being anyone closely connected with the park to lead them, Dhar said that IGF, NTCA Bankhwal would manage everything.

It needs mention here that the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) wrote to the Arunachal Pradesh government about the visit of the sites by this committee on February 8, 2018, whereas the Assam authorities came to know of the committee’s visit to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park at the last moment.

The committee has been constituted in accordance with a decision of the SCNBWL following a directive of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to review the 1,750-MW Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Power Project.

During its visit, the committee members allegedly accepted the hospitality of Athena Demwe Power Ltd, the executing agency of the power project at the project site in Arunachal Pradesh day before yesterday, going against the set norms.

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