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In the world's largest blackout, some 600 million Indians lost power Tuesday. It is the second major failure of the country's power grid this week. Exactly what caused these monumental power outages is still under investigation, but the blackouts are raising new questions about India's rising energy needs. In this series, GlobalPost looks at the nearly 150 dams planned for the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Together, the dams would fill India's energy gap. But they will also devastate dozens of indigenous tribal peoples, wipe out thousands of acres of breathtaking forest and destroy some of the world's best whitewater.

India

Part 2: The threat to the environment

Huge upfront payments make it easy for dam builders and the government to gloss over environmental regulations.

“Can we look beyond animal and plant biodiversity and think of people who are as much a part of the same biodiversity?” Sajawan said. “The people in Arunachal Pradesh are getting increasingly frustrated at the delay in clearance of developmental projects on the ground of environment, forest and wildlife clearances.”

Even before hearing Sajawan's arguments, Environment Minister Natarajan had opened the December meeting by saying that “already a sizable investment of scientific, technical and financial inputs had gone into the project."

And though she promised to review the wildlife board's objections, her closing admonition was that “the matter could not be delayed any further.”

In other words, as more and more money was spent on upfront payments, engineering and impact studies, environmental clearance began to look like a foregone conclusion.

Back to the Dam Nation series landing page.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/120404/dam-nation-arunachal-pradesh-environmental-threat-part-2