Siberia dam will destroy Evenk way of life

by February 16, 2009

Russia’s state-controlled Hydro company, RusHydro, is pushing ahead with a renewed plan to construct a massive hydropower station on the Lower Tunguska river in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia.

Environmental and indigenous groups warn that the dam will destroy up to five million hectares of larch forest, “fundamentally alter” the region’s biodiversity, and flood one of three underground nuclear testing sites in the region.

Four indigenous villages belonging to the Evenk People will also be submerged.

This means death to the Evenk’s culture and way of life, because these four villages are the only ones that continue to live as their ancestors did for generations.

A culture must be practiced for it to exist. Once the villages are submerged and the inhabitants forced to relocate, their culture will never be practiced again.

“Taking into account the extremely high socio-ecological damage the project will cause and the financial resources it requires, [the dam] can’t be effective in principle,” notes a recent letter to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

“It’s important to consider that this project was declined in the late 1980s by the Government of the USSR after strict environmental and economical examinations as economically and socially untenable.”

Signed by a coalition of NGOs, including RAIPON, WWF, Greenpeace, and the Biodiversity Conservation Center, the letter urges Putin to cancel the project, adding that proceeding will it would be an infringement on both “international and Russian rules of law, in particular: the Convention of Biological Diversity, the Federal Environmental Protection Act and the Federal Guarantee of Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Russian Federation Act.”

Along with the letter, Putin was handed a petition that was signed by more than 8,000 people.

What you can do

You can sign that same petition by heading over to (The page is in Russian, so please click here for a rough translation to English.