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Expert panel puts spanner on NHPC project in Assam

Supratim Dey  |  Kolkata/ Guwahati 

The recent recommendations of an expert panel against mega dams in the North-eastern region have led to a renewed a wave of protest in Assam.

Two students' body, All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and Takam Mising Porin Kebang (TMPK), have demanded immediate stoppage of work of the Lower Subansiri Hydro Project, being developed by NHPC Ltd, failing which they will hold a weeklong blockade programme of roads leading to the NHPC project site.

"We have decided to undertake road blockade till July 11 to stop construction material from reaching NHPC site in Dhemaji and North Lakhimpur districts," said Sammujal Bhattacharya, advisor to AASU. The two organsiations, spearheading protests against the project for long, have also charted out other agitation programmes across the state in later days.

The Assam government had formed an expert committee in 2008 comprising members from IIT Guwahati and Gauhati University to study the impact of the under-construction 2000-MW Lower Subansiri Project. The committee, which recently submitted its report, had expressed its reservations against construction of mega dams in the region for their perceived adverse impact on downstream areas in Assam.

Both the students' body held a protest demonstration near Raj Bhavan and submitted a memorandum to the Governor yesterday. The Governor, said Bhattacharya, has assured to take up the matter with the Centre.

Both the students' organisations have alleged that Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and power ministers Pradyut Bordoloi were acting hand in glove with NHPC. After the committee submitted its report, Gogoi said that the state government would forward the recommendations to the Centre. But the two students' organisations have demanded that Gogoi should immediately press the Centre for making the recommendations effective.

The expert panel had recommended a "review" of the design of the project as the present design; it found, was not only faulty but will also cause damage to the ecology and downstream areas. Meanwhile, NHPC has said it will "study" the recommendations of the expert committee.

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First Published: Thu, July 08 2010. 00:27 IST