Assam bodies oppose move to restart work on mega dam

July 04, 2014 12:00 am | Updated 09:45 am IST - Guwahati:

The Centre announced that the construction of the 2,000-MW project would resume within a week

Several anti-mega dam organisations in Assam have vowed to resist any move by the Centre to resume construction of 2,000-MW Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation at Gerukamukh along Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border. The organisations include the All Assam Students’ Union(AASU), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad(AJYCP), Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti(KMSS) and the opposition party Asom Gana Parishad(AGP).

The organisations reacted sharply to an announcement by Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for power, coal and renewable energy Piyush Goyal that project work would resume within a week. Mr. Goyal, after a meeting with Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, went on record that the Ministry of Home Affairs had assured to resolve the inter-state problem due to which the work on the project remained suspended. The work on the project has been halted since December 16, 2011 due to vigorous protests by various organisations including the AASU, KMSS, AJYCP and the AGP. These organisations have been opposing construction of the mega dam of the project as they fear it would be detrimental to the interest of the people living downstream areas in Assam. They also expressed doubt over the safety of the dam as it is located in a highly seismic zone.

The AASU has called for state-wide Satyagraha on July 7 to press for the demands that the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government honour the opinion of the expert committee on safety of the dam as well as on downstream impact. A panel of experts of Gauhati University, Indian Institute of Technology(IIT), Guwahati and Dibrugarh University constituted by the Assam Government had expressed concern over safety aspects and downstream impacts of the project after going into various technical and socio-economic issues related to the project. “Neither the AASU nor the Central government is expert on the dam. We want Prime Minister Narendra Modi to keep his poll promise of taking a decision on the Lower Subansiri project based on opinions of the experts.

Experts have given their opinion. We want the new government at the Centre to respect their opinion. We are hopeful that Mr. Modi will keep his poll promise. We will not compromise on any issue that is detrimental to the interest of indigenous people,” said the AASU adviser Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharyya.

Earlier, the AASU also demanded a white paper on 600- MW Kholongchu hydropower project in Bhutan, foundation stone of which was laid by Mr. Modi during his maiden visit to the neighbouring country, if any study had been done on possible cumulative downstream impact of the project on areas in Assam and whether any measure had been taken to protect the interest of the people from such an adverse impact.

Activists of the AJYCP on Thursday staged a dharna in Lakhimpur to protest the Centre’s decision to resume work of the Lower Subanrisi hydroelectric project and vowed to resist such a move. The KMSS also vowed to build a strong resistance movement against resumption of the project work.

The AGP accused the BJP of betraying the people of Assam by going back on its poll promise of opposing construction of mega dam like Lower Subansiri. The regional party said that it would continue to oppose all “anti-people” move of the BJP-led government at the Centre.

AASU has called for state-wide Satyagraha on July 7 to highlight the concern over safety

The work on the project has been on hold since December 16, 2011 following protests

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