Truth is more Slppery

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Once the site of a famous victory of the Gallo tribe over the British, Gerukhamukh village today is the address of the biggest dam ever conceived in India. On the banks of river Sipai in Arunachal Pradesh's (ap ) West Siang district, the village is host to the Subansiri Lower Multipurpose Hydroelectric project (slp). slp once promised 2,000 megawatts (mw) of electricity and numerous other bounties to the state. Today, it stands for everything that can go wrong with a hydroelectric project in the northeast.

March 22, 2005: 200 people from 14 villages in Dolok Bango area of West Siang gathered in the state capital, Itanagar, raising slogans against the slp. But the protestors were not against the dam per se. The cause for their remonstrance was actually the stricture against the dam that the Supreme Court (sc) had passed about a year ago, on April 19, 2004. sc had ordered that a sanctuary should come up comprising the reserve forest that fell in the catchment area of the river above the dam. It should come up, the sc ordered, to compensate for forests slp would submerge. But once created, people here believe, the reserve would displace 5,000 tribals, living in 14 villages of the Dolok Bango area, from their traditional lands and jhum (shifting cultivation) forests.

The irony here is that, by itself, slp will displace only 2 villages, comprising just 24 families. But such twists of planning were not what the protesting villagers had in mind. They only knew that the project had once promised them jobs. Now, it threatened their lives. Lamented Tare Taye of Mimma, one of the villages the people believe could fall within the proposed sanctuary, "I am almost 70, but am here in Itanagar to request the government to come to our rescue.' He, like other protestors, had no clue that the ap government and the slp authorities had other