A group of students’ unions and civil society groups from the northeastern states has called for a “complete reversal of extractive projects” in Dehing Patkai, Dibang Valley, and Dibru Saikhowa forests.
The group, named Northeast Solidarity for Environmental Justice, has said in a press release, “In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing lockdown, there has been a concerted effort by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) of India to accord clearances to projects that stand to attack indigenous lands, forests, and resources in the Northeast region and cause grave environmental injustice.”
The group specifically mentioned three projects that have recently been given clearances —a coal mining project in the Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve, a hydroelectric project in the Dibang Valley and for drilling and testing of hydrocarbons at seven locations under the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park Area.
The collective also pointed out that the environment ministry has recently released a draft of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020 and said that it “aims to dilute existing rules of environmental regulations for industry.”
The group contends that the projects mentioned above “are set to disrupt the existing ecological balance, and effectively destroy the biological diversity of said sites at a time when there are rising concerns about climate change and the link between biodiversity loss and zoonotic diseases like the COVID-19.”
The collective includes the North East students’ fora in Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Post Graduate Students’ Union, Gauhati University and the Youth Mission for Clean River, Itanangar, among others.