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Cabinet Approves India’s Largest – 2,880 MW Dibang Hydro Power Project

On 17th July 2019,  Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)  chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved “expenditure on pre-investment activities and various clearances for Dibang Multipurpose Project (MPP) in Arunachal Pradesh”.

Pre-Investment Approval for Dibang Hydro Power Project

The government has approved Rs. 1,600 Cr. for anticipated pre-investment actives and various clearances towards: compensation for land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) activities (Rs. 500.40 Cr.) to project affected families and state government, payment of Net Present Value (NPV) of forests, Compensatory Afforestation (CA), Catchment Area Treatment Plan (CAT) to the state government for forest lands, to secure the Forest Clearance (Stage-lI) and construction of roads and bridges for accessing project site. Rs. 241 Cr. are to be utilized for community and social development plan and Rs. 3.27 Cr. on planning for protection of culture and identity of local people.

About Dibang Hydro Power Project (DHPP)

The foundation stone of DHPP was laid on 31st January 2008 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Itanagar – capital city of Arunachal Pradesh.

NHPC logo

The project is located in lower Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh and shall be developed by NHPC Ltd.

DHPP shall consist of 12 units of 240 MW each of Francis Turbine giving it a generation capacity of 2,880 MW. This would make Dibang the largest Hydro Power Plant to be constructed in India. It shall have underground power house and a massive 278 meter high concrete dam making it the highest dam in India. At present Tehri Damis highest one at 260.5 meter. Further DHPP shall be the World’s tallest concrete gravity dam.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be Rs. 28,080.35 Cr, including interest during construction & financing charges of Rs. 3,974.95 Cr. (June 2018 level). The expected completion period is of 9 years subject to government sanctions and resolutions of the issues pertaining to various protests.

Power Distribution of DHPP

Out of the total generated power, Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh shall get 12 % free power and Local Area Development Fund (LADF) will get 1 % free power. The total value of free power to be given is expected to be Rs. 26,785 Cr. over the project life of 40 years.

Dibang – a Multipurpose Project (MPP)

DHPP is a storage-based hydro electric projected with key objective of flood moderation. After the construction of the Dibang dam it shall prevent and protect sizable downstream area from floods. As per the Press Information Bureau, dated 17th July 2019 it is mentioned that “It will help in mitigating the perennial damage due to floods in Assam”.

Current Status of DHPP

The project has received statutory clearances including environment clearance, forest clearance (Stage-I) and defence clearance. Forest clearance (stage -II) is pending for seeking investment sanctions from central government.

Protests against Dibang Hydro Project of NHPC

Previous Hurdles

The project had faced series of protests by locals as well as protest in Assam for over 11 years. Since it is the home of Idu Mishmi Tribe (borders Tibet and China) and constitutes 1.3 % of total population of state. Moreover, in 2013 the Forest Advisory Committee of Ministry of Environment and Forests had put the project on hold, after analyzing that 3,50,000 trees had to be felled for the project.

Present Concerns

115 families in 5 villages are to be displaced and 744 families of 39 villages shall be affected. The project demands submergence of rice fields, land in community use and forest land. Total of 3,546 hectares would go under the water of which only 1,176 hectares is the river bed.