LAKHIMPUR: The construction work of Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric project has been ongoing in war footing despite the adverse situation caused by second wave COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Power has already targeted to commission the mega hydroelectric project within 2023 and to generate electricity. Then the constructing organization NHPC has accelerated the construction works of the project receiving the green signal of the Union Government. In the meantime, 50 per cent construction of the power house of the project has been completed while the progress of the construction of the main dam and the intake tunnel is 70 per cent as per a source.
Notably, the 2,000MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project (SLHP) is located on Subansiri River at Gerukamukh in the border area of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The construction of the project started in 2005 and was due to be completed in 2010. The project was delayed due to stiff opposition over its potential environmental impact. From 2011, the construction works were stalled for an indefinite period because of strong resistance. The resistance to the project was shown in the form of a far-reaching anti-dam movement by various organizations like All Assam Students' Union (AASU), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS). It is alleged that the dam is located in a seismic zone and it is significantly under-designed to resist earthquakes. The fluctuation of water level in the river is also feared to affect the ecology in the lower Subansiri region in future. As a result, the target commissioning date of the project was pushed back to 2023. However, the construction works resumed from October, 2019 The project is expected to be completed in 2023. The project is being developed as part of India's 50,000MW hydropower programme initiated in May 2003. NHPC signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the Assam Government in August 2019 and received approval for the project.
As per information from the source, various machinery parts of the project, along with other construction materials have been transported from the other States to the project site at present despite the night curfew declared in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. It is alleged that the COVID-19 protocol has not been followed in the project site in this regard.
The source further stated the water level of the catchment area of the project has risen since Friday due to the heavy downpour. As a result of it, the overflowing water, penetrating through the diversion tunnel, has once again posed threat to the cofferdam of the project like the previous years. The source added that the overflowing water has also posed threat to the guard wall of the power house which collapsed last year.