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A screenshot from the video report "‘Water Bomb’: Why Indigenous People in Northeast India Fear Hydropower Projects."
Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim states, India

‘Water Bomb’: Why Indigenous People in Northeast India Fear Hydropower Projects

For the government of India, large dams are a way of transitioning away from thermal power. But for the indigenous people of northeast India, large dams often appear as "ticking water bombs."

India has over three dozen large dams with a cumulative installed capacity of over 22,000 megawatts in the pipeline for this region, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. A large section of local residents fear immense adverse impacts on safety, livelihood, environment and biodiversity. The controversial 2,000-megawatt Lower Subansiri project in Assam, currently India’s biggest hydel power project, would be dwarfed once India manages to build two proposed dams, each of about 3,000-megawatt installed capacity, in the Dibang river valley of Arunachal Pradesh.

This report from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim documents the local people’s protests and apprehensions around India’s mega push for hydroelectric power in the northeastern region, part of two of the world’s 36 global biodiversity hotspots, sitting on India’s most active seismic zones.


This report was produced with support from Internews' Earth Journalism Network. It was first published by The Wire on YouTube on December 10, 2022. The text has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: A screenshot from the video "‘Water Bomb’: Why Indigenous People in Northeast India Fear Hydropower Projects."