History shows we cannot trust our 'neighbour': Arunachal CM
Arunachal CM Pema Khandu

Guwahati: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu has said people shouldn’t blame the leadership for not doing anything while China was building the mega-dam.

Expressing concern at the recurring land erosion by River Siang every monsoon in the Mebo area of East Siang district, CM Khandu said the construction of a ‘barrage’ on the river is the only viable option to tame its course and flow.

Attending the opening day of the 3-day Banggo Solung celebrations at Mebo on Thursday, Khandu counted the massive losses caused by flooding waters of River Siang along the left bank in the plains of the Mebo area.

“A couple of years ago, the all-important Mebo-Dhola road was breached. We constructed an alternate road. This, too, was eroded the next year. We then spent about Rs 35 crores through the Department of Water Resources to construct flood protection structures. These, too, got eroded. The famous Daying Ering Wildlife Sanctuary on the right bank is also shrinking due to soil erosion. We need to find a long-term solution to the problem,” he said.

Khandu admitted that safeguarding a 23 km long bank is not easy, but both the state and the central governments are committed to making life easy for the 10-plus villages that bear the brunt of River Siang every monsoon.

He informed that the Central government asked the state government to submit a comprehensive plan to protect both left and right banks as a single project. The state government is working on it, he said.

Sharing reports of China proposing to construct a dam worth over 60000MW over River Siang in Tibet just before it enters Arunachal Pradesh, Khandu expressed serious concerns, but assured that both the Centre and state government are privy to the development.

He said that while the Centre is responding to the development at its level, the concern of the state government is to save River Siang at all costs and also to keep its flow under control.

“History is witness that we cannot trust our ‘neighbour’. You never know what they can do. They can either divert the entire river flow drying up our Siang or release water at once causing unprecedented flood havoc downstream,” he said.

“The only solution to these threats,” Khandu added, “is that we also construct a barrage on the River Siang. While this barrage will save water from the tributaries within Arunachal to maintain the natural flow of Siang, it will also protect our land from flash floods. Hydropower generation is our secondary objective.”

He, however, passed the onus on the Adi society whether to build the barrage or not. He said that 30-40 years down the line people shouldn’t blame the leadership for not doing anything while China was building the mega dam.

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Meanwhile, hailing the Adis for taking pride in their rich culture, Khandu reiterated his stand for passing on the heritage to the next generation without dilution. He urged the elders to encourage the young ones to participate in traditional practices and learn to speak their native languages passed down for generations.

“Without our identity, we will be lost in the vast majority of people who have long lost their indigeneity,” Khandu added.

The celebration was also attended by Lok Sabha MP Tapir Gao, local legislator Lombo Tayeng, MLAs Kaling Moyong and Ninong Ering, Advisor to CM Dr Tangor Tapak, former ministers Roding Pertin and Bosiram Siram, former MLAs Ralom Borang and Tatung Jamoh and others.  

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