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Lower Subansiri: Assam groups protest possible resumption of hydel project

Over Rs 8,400 crore was spent on the project till December 2011, while NHPC has been incurring a loss of Rs 1 crore a day because of its non-completion.

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati |
Updated: April 12, 2017 8:14:02 am

The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and several other groups across the state on Tuesday held protests and warned the Centre of fresh agitation if the government tried to resume work on the 2000-MW Lower Subansiri hydel project that was halted in December 2011. “We will not allow the government to start work in the Lower Subansiri project until concrete plans are announced to mitigate its downstream impact as well as reduce the height in order to prevent earthquake damage,” AASU president Dipankar Nath said.

Members of the Asom Jatiyatabai Yuva-Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) burnt effigies of Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal in Lakimpur and Gogamukh on Tuesday.

The protests were triggered by a news item in a section of local newspapers that the Centre would soon resume work on the Lower Subansiri project.

The minister had on Monday told Parliament that the government had submitted the report of the Project Oversight Committee (POC) to the National Green Tribunal. Minister Goyal said that after examining two reports of the POC, the Centre decided to endorse the report submitted by the expert members nominated by the Government of India.

Although the minister had not specifically said the Centre had decided to resume construction of the project, the AASU, AJYCP and other groups in Assam have complained that the government had ignored the objections raised by four members of the expert committee who were from Assam.

“We understand that the Centre has grossly ignored the objections raised by four expert committee members from Assam and has projected the remarks of the other members as that of the POC,” Nath alleged.

Akhil Gogoi, the leader of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), on the other hand said it would resist “at any cost” any move by the Centre to resume work on the project. “The Lower Subansiri project is a water bomb which will cause disaster in Assam in the event of a major earthquake,” Gogoi said.

Being implemented by National Hydro-electric Power Corporation (NHPC), the Lower Subansiri Hydro-Electric Power Project is the largest hydel power project in the country. Located on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border, it has remained incomplete since December 2011 after the AASU, AJYCP and other groups complained about its lack of safety in the face of a seismic event and possible negative downstream impact on Assam. The government first constituted an expert committee and then the project oversight committee in December 2014 to examine the issues raised by the AASU and other groups.

Four members of the expert committee who are from Assam are said to have expressed their reservations on resumption of the project work.

The project cost, estimated to cost Rs 6,285 crore in 2002, shot up to Rs 18,064 crore in September 2015. Over Rs 8,400 crore was spent on the project till December 2011, while NHPC has been incurring a loss of Rs 1 crore a day because of its non-completion.

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