Advocate Ebo Mili and Mejo Mihu from Lower Dibang Valley and Dibang Valley were detained by Itanagar police on 12th August 2023 outside the banquet hall while they were protesting the MoA signing of 13 Mega Hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh. Adv. Ebo was released after 8 hours of interrogation and Bond signing ” U/S 107 CrPC for 1(one) year for keeping peace and good behavior for an amount of 10,000 Rs.”
Mejo has been released with stern caution to refrain from any such “unlawful” activities in future. These charges suggest that Ebo and Mejo should not protest or else strict actions will be taken upon them, implying that any dissenting voice against mega dams will be dealt with strict legal actions. It is unfortunate that protesting under our constitutional right is deemed unlawful and understood as breaching peace. While the govt never took cognizance of why people are protesting in the first place. While the govt itself is forceful and unconstitutional without following any protocol of public consultation. This is nothing less than dictatorship.
Union Power Minister R K Singh was present in the MoA signing on 12/08/2023 wherein he said the hydropower potential of the state will make Arunachal Pradesh “one of the richest states in the nation”.
It is important to note that all these projects have been facing resistance from locals in certain areas especially, in the Dibang and Siang basin for over a decade now. Dibang Valley has faced strong opposition to mega dams which came into abrupt halt due to imposition of AFSPA (Arms force special power act) and wrongful portrayal of protestors as Maoists.
Innocent youth leaders were booked under NSA (national security act) although there has been no proof till date since the allegations, of any anti national element within the indigenous Idu Mishmi community and the protesting leadership during the active anti dam movement in Dibang. Today, Dibang valley is a ticking disaster bomb with 17 hydropower proposals of which 2880 MW is sanctioned. 5 other MoAs were signed on 12/08/2023 (Friday) where Advocate Ebo Mili was protesting with placards and posters saying No More Dams, Arunachal Not a Dam Country, Damn the Dams and other slogans.
The Siang Indigenous Farmers’ Forum (SIFF), along with the residents of the Siang river basin and other stakeholders has been strongly opposing hydropower projects. The SIFF had filed a PIL at the Itanagar permanent bench of the Gauhati High Court in 2014, and the case was disposed of in 2022 in favour of the petitioners, with an instruction to the state government that “in the coming future, the consent and consultation must be sought from the affected locals for any such dam project. At present, AAWS (All Adi Welfare Society), Tribal Apex body of Adi tribe of Siang valley are also strongly opposed to the mega dams of 13000 MW capacity proposed in Siang valley. The govt of Arunachal Pradesh, according to SIFF and AAWS are conducting forceful Preliminary Feasibility Report (PFR) Survey despite the court ruling and people’s more than decade long protest. Tasik Pangkam, retired President of SIFF, has also been threatened
in the past by Army militarisation, surveillance by the DC (Deputy commissioner) of Upper Siang.
There has been constant misuse of power and law in the name of national security in the protest history of the anti mega dam movement in Arunachal Pradesh. To cite one more instance, a protesting monk in Tawang was shot by armed police during the anti dam movement in Tawang, at the constituency of the current CM of Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Pema Khandu.
“We stand in solidarity with Advocate Ebo Mili and Mejo Mihu who has been arrested for protesting against hydropower projects that threaten their ancestral home with permanent displacements, loss of land ownership to big corporations, dam induced environmental disasters and no remedial justice for the forceful implementation of the mega dams in the region without prior consultation and consent. Indigenous leaders who have been fighting for years to protect their land and customary and traditional life their voices must be heard.
“We the indigenous communities in the area have been marginalized and their concerns ignored, as the government and corporations prioritize profit over people and the environment.” Echos many grieving locals.
The youth in Roing, Lower Dibang Valley, demonstrated a protest in solidarity for Ebo and Mejo’s immediate release late in the evening on 12/08/2023. They said it is unconstitutional of the govt of Arunachal Pradesh to arrest people who are rightfully protesting mega dam that will displace indigenous tribes and take land ownership from them. And that Govt must listen to its people’s grievances.
“There is nothing unconstitutional about peaceful protest and demonstrations so we appeal to the DC Roing to kindly communicate our message to release Ebo and Mejo immediately.” Said Bhanu Tatak, member of Dibang Resistance and SIFF.
“We stand with Adv. Ebo Mili and Mejo Mihu in their fight for justice, can’t we even protest? Why have Ebo and Mejo detained for just holding placards?.” said Timai Miwu, a youth from Dibang Valley.
Amar Mega, an Idu Mishmi Youth from IRAD (indigenous research and advocacy Dibang) appealed to the public to join in solidarity, narrating in Local dialect Idu Mishmi of why we are protesting the mega dams in the region and why Ebo and Mejo were arrested.
On 12th August, 2023 the Union Power Minister RK Singh was in Itanagar for the Memorandum of Agreement signing ceremony with four major central public sector undertakings (CPSUs) namely National Hydroelectric Power Commission (NHPC), Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDCL) and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO) for undertaking 13 number of hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh.
“Of the 13 projects, the SJVN has been allotted 5 projects from Dibang basin which are Amulin HEP (420 MW), Emini (500 MW), Mihundon HEP (400 MW), Etalin HEP (3097 MW) and Attunli HEP (680 MW).
The projects allotted to NEEPCO are Tato- I HEP (186 MW), Tato-II HEP (700 MW), Naying HEP (1000 MW), Hirong HEP (500 MW) and Heo HEP (240 MW) in the Siang basin.
The NHPC will take Kamala HEP (1800 MW) and Subansiri Upper HEP (2000 MW) in the Subansiri basin while THDCL will execute Kalai- II HEP (1200 MW) in Lohit basin.” Report based on The Arunachal Times.
Various organisations and people of Arunachal had also raised their concern about the mega dam during the United Nations’ Human Rights meeting held in Kathmandu (Nepal)2023 , and at UNRBHR (UN Responsible Business and Human Rights) Bangkok twice (Sept 2022, June 2023)
Bhanu Tatak- 76308 25455
Dibang Resistance and SIFF (Siang Indigenous Farmer’s Forum)