The Assam government Thursday assured more than two dozen-odd anti-dam organisations that it would seek fresh expert opinion within six months on whether the 2,000 MW hydro power project in adjoining Arunachal Pradesh would lead to adverse ecological impact in downstream areas.
A group of five ministers constituted by the government held talks with four major anti-dam groups, representing more than 30 different organisations, in Guwahati.
“We told the groups that the government would seek expert opinion within six months if at all the dam in Arunachal Pradesh was safe or not or whether it could have any ecological impact in the downstream areas as apprehended,” state Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi told journalists after a seven-hour long marathon meeting.
Among the anti-dam groups that took part in the meeting includes the All Assam Student’s Union (AASU), the Krishak Mukti Samaj Samity (KMSS), the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and the Takam Mising Poring Kebang (TMPK).
“We wanted the government to ask the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) to stop all works at the ongoing Lower Subansiri power project site until the expert committee report was ready. But the government said it would only ensure that the NHPC project would not allowed to be commissioned until the expert report comes in,” KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi said after the meeting.
The striking groups said they would continue to protest along the National Highway 52 and prevent trucks carrying machineries and equipment to the NHPC project site in Arunachal Pradesh.
The National Highway 52 is the main lifeline linking Arunachal Pradesh to the rest of India via Assam.
The anti-dam groups have since the past one month staging road blockades on and off leading to delay in construction of the power project.
The nearly Rs.10,000 crore project that began in 2003 is mired in a blazing row with several environmental and pressure groups in Assam, making vociferous protests and demanding scrapping of the construction work citing adverse ecological and environmental impact in downstream areas in Assam
The Arunachal Pradesh government has signed MoUs with several private firms for 10 major hydropower projects to generate an estimated 30,000 MW power in 10 years’ time.
The state, bordering Myanmar and the Tibet region, has the potential to generate an estimated 50,000 MW of hydropower.
Among the major projects currently being executed in the state are the Ranganadi project, the Subansari project and the Taloh power project.
Despite stiff opposition, the Arunachal Pradesh government is adamant on continuing with the construction of dams.