Roing, Arunachal Pradesh, India
Nine unarmed students were shot by police in an action widely condemned by local students unions and anti-dam activists in the past weeks.
Roing is one of many district headquarters in Arunachal Pradesh – one the paddling paradise in the Himalayas - at the center of a growing argument between large-scale hydropower developers and indigenous tribes. The state government, in accordance with India’s National Hydropower Policy, has approved hundreds of new micro-, mini-, and mega-hydropower projects. But the fast-tracked, unilateral development policy stands to threaten the marginalized tribal cultures while harnessing the value of their natural resources and selling it to utilities. It focuses on hydropower, while disregarding sustainable options like the gigawatt solar facilities being developed in the US and Spain.
In Arunachal’s valleys, small populations of sixteen distinct major tribes stand to lose their ancestral lands to unsustainable projects that will symbolise the exploitation of their resources. On the Siang and Dibang Rivers, where two of the largest proposed projects would be located, the apex tribal councils, Adi Bane Kebang and Adi Bogum Bokang Kebang, have come out against both the dams and the lack of consultation. In downstream Assam, the All Assam Students Union has led rallies of thousands of people against the Dibang, Siang, and Subansiri dams.
In the run-up to the shootings, notices were posted about Maoist infiltration. The Maoists are an active political group not associated with the indigenous anti-dam movement. None of the students shot were armed, and some were as young as 12. According to local activists, the violence may have served two purposes: to intimidate the growing anti-dam protests and to create a law and order situation that would allow the hydropower company to circumvent the required consultations with locally affected tribes. As the local movement to preserve free-flowing rivers gathers momentum, local activists expect to see further acts of violence and intimidation against legitimate, peaceful protests.
Visit the facebook group ‘’Stop Dams on Siang’’ to learn more.