Opposition to construction of hydro-electric projects with storage dams were fuelled by narrow vested political interests and hence required adequate awareness programmes to dispel the fears, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu said on Tuesday. Speaking at a function in the national capital where he and his cabinet colleagues attended a presentation by NITI Aayog in the proposed Multipurpose River Valley Project for Siang river, chief minister Khandu also said that people in his state often fall prey to misinformation and thus carry a lot of negative notions about large dams.
Khandu’s appeal to the NITI Aayog comes at a time when construction work on the 2000-MW Lower Subansiri hydro-electric dam project has remained closed since December 2011 amid protests in Assam, and there has been growing opposition within Arunachal Pradesh against several hydro-electric dam projects.
“The people in the state carry a lot of negative notions regarding large dams. Thus it is very important to spread adequate awareness to dispel their fears. Sometimes opposition to dam is fuelled by narrow vested political interests and the common people, being gullible, fall prey to misinformation. I would suggest that the NITI Aayog visit Arunachal Pradesh, meet the people, understand the nature of their opposition and make them aware of the benefits of dams,” a press release issued by the CM’s office quoting Khandu said.
The Siang Multipurpose River Valley Project, which will replace the proposed Siang Stage I and Stage II projects, would be constructed at the proposed Siang Stage II location as a single storage project instead of two separate projects as earlier scheduled, the press release said. This would reduce the cost of the project by about 25 per cent and also increase the storage capacity of the dam, it said.
The project which would have a 300-metre high dam with capacity to produce 10,000 MW power would also help moderate flood and erosion in the downstream reaches of both Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, the press release said.
“Besides an Rs 4,500-crore package for relief and rehabilitation, the proposed project will attract an investment of about Rs 80,000 crores with huge employment generation and creation of several economic opportunities. Arunachal Pradesh will benefit through its 12 per cent free power share that comes to about Rs 2,400 crore per annum as revenue. An additional Rs 200 crore per annum will be added through its one per cent free power share, which will be used exclusively for local area development,” it said.