NHPC has accepted recommendations of expert panels on downstream impact issue, Assam stands to get 533 MW power once project is completed: Pallab Lochon Das
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, March 9: A consensus on early completion of the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydel Project at Gerukamukh along Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border was struck among political parties in the Assembly on Thursday, with all parties laying stress on early completion of the stalled project by discussing with stakeholders and the people to remove their fears about the project.
The construction of the project by NHPC has been put on hold since 2013 due to protests by local groups/organizations against the possible disastrous impact of the dam on people living in downstream areas. A case against the construction of the dam is also lying in the National Green Tribunal.
In the House on Thursday, Bihpuria BJP MLA Debananda Hazarika raised the issue under Rule 50. “Although the Lower Subansiri Hydel Project is a sensitive issue, it should be completed as soon as possible to meet power shortage and encourage industrialization in the State. Assam has now a power shortfall of 305 MW,” Hazarika pointed out.
Allaying fears that the project would not be able to withstand an earthquake like the one in 1950, and would prove disastrous for people living in downstream areas, Hazarika said the dam can withstand an earthquake measuring even 9.5 on the Richter scale. It will help the State government fight floods that is an annual phenomenon in Assam, he contended. “If the dam is built, 250 cusecs of water will continue to flow down the river. The dam will also help the government produce more fish and develop tourism in the State,” he added.
Due to halt in the project’s constriction, its cost has escalated from Rs 6,285 crore earlier to Rs 15,694 crore, which will also raise the cost of power production. Due to the delay in its work, the country is suffering losses to the tune of Rs 4,200 crore per year.
BJP MLA Ashok Singhal said, “The dam should be built by taking all safety measures into consideration. But China is trying to divert the water flow of the Brahmaputra from southern to northern direction for its own benefit by building 40 small dams over the river on their side. The problem has aggravated because India has no water treaty with that country. China is also trying to stop the flow of water to Assam from Tibet,” adding, “The Chief Minister should take up the issue with the Prime Minister of India.”
On this issue, Opposition leader Debabrat Saikia said, “The construction of the project should be completed after reaching a consensus, and most importantly, the project should be a multi-purpose one.
AGP MLA Ramendra Narayan Kalita said, “The free power share of the State from this project of the NHPC should be more.” BPF MLA Immanuel Mushahary and AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam put stress on increased power production by the dam and minimizing its downstream impact.
In his reply, Minister Pallab Lochon Das said, “56 per cent construction work of the dam has been completed by the NHPC. On the downstream impact issue, the NHPC has accepted recommendations of different expert committees. The NHPC has also decided to build dykes on both sides of the river in the downstream. If the project is completed, Assam will get 533 MW of power. On the free power issue, the Chief Minister will discuss the same with the Prime Minister,” adding, “Once the Green Tribunal gives its go ahead, we will solve the remaining other issues.”
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said, “There should be a resolution on the issue in the House.”
Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami, in his statement, said, “Under Rule 50, resolution can’t be moved, but it can be moved later by the government. However, the House has reached a consensus on three aspects of the issue — that public apprehension about the project should be removed, the government should discuss it with stakeholders and the people, and the need to expedite the project in the overall interest of the State’s development.”