Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the Centre or the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) set up a technical team, consisting of internationally acclaimed seismologists, to examine the safety of the dam of the 2000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric project.

Such a technical team should also include members of the expert group set up by the NHPC and the government, Mr. Gogoi said in a letter to Dr. Singh.

Mr. Gogoi, while sharing a copy of the letter with journalists, said here on Friday that the State government was also of the view that a Steering Group should be set up by the NHPC to advise it on measures for flood and erosion control in the downstream areas.

The State government has also suggested that the Central Water Commission immediately start a comprehensive study of the Subansiri, Lohit, and Siang basins. This should be based on the norms given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to determine the cumulative impact on bio-diversity and the eco-system of the region. Over 150 hydel projects are proposed to be set up in the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra.

“These projects have given rise to widespread concern and anxiety in Assam. It is apprehended that once these projects are completed, there would be flash floods in the downstream areas when there is sudden and excessive discharge of waters after heavy rainfall. Besides, there are apprehensions that these projects would have adverse impact on erosion situation, bio-diversity and ecology of the region,” Mr. Gogoi said in the letter, while referring to the proposed mega dams in Arunachal Pradesh, including the Subansiri project.

Reiterating his stand on the mega river dams in general and Subansiri project in particular, Mr. Gogoi said he was not opposed to big dams but felt that the issues raised by the expert group must be addressed.

Referring to the expert group report, Assam Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi said the group did not recommended scrapping of the Subansiri project and only made a set of recommendations, which the government, wanted the NHPC to address.

Mr. Gogoi accused the Opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and NGO Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) of raking up the mega dam issue only to divert the attention of the people from development ushered in during the Congress rule.

He also referred to a memorandum submitted by the former Chief Minister, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, during the first tenure of the AGP government to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on September 14, 1988 demanding that the scheme prepared by the Brahmaputra Board for multipurpose hydel projects be implemented.