In late August, India’s environment ministry rejected a proposal to build what would be the country’s largest hydro-power plant in a remote and pristine part of the country’s northeast because of the potential damage to an area rich in biodiversity.
Less than a month later and, according to two environment ministry officials, after pressure from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office, permission was granted for the 3,000 megawatt Dibang plant, the construction of which will mean clearing some 4,000 hectares (9,900 acres) of forest.
The plant is one of hundreds of projects, many of which were repeatedly rejected in the past, that have been approved since Modi came to power in May.
That trend has alarmed environmentalists, who say the country’s natural habitat is under assault in the name of industrial development.
“The floodgates are open,” said Sunita Narain, director general of the Delhi-based Center for Science and Environment (CSE). “We were in trouble with the last government and we are in even more trouble with this government. Rather than try and reform the system, they are picking at the edges.”
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