Foreign firms to study dams

Guwahati, Oct 31 : The Assam government has asked the NHPC to hire two institutes of international repute in the multi-disciplinary committee to conduct a fresh survey on the dam in the Lower Subansiri hydel project.

Assam power minister Pradyut Bordoloi today said this, and added that the government has asked the NHPC to include the Hydro Project institute of Moscow and AF Colenco Ltd of Switzerland in the multi-disciplinary expert committee to study all the issues thoroughly.

Earlier this week, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi held a meeting with the chairman-cum-managing director of NHPC, S.K. Garg, on several vital issues related to the Lower Subansiri Dam project.

He urged the director to ensure that the NHPC addressed all issues raised by the people on the downstream impact of the dam on bio-diversity and the environment as a whole.

Bordoloi said, “These two international companies have done substantial work on dams and power resources in the Himalayan region. So the chief minister had written to the NHPC to consult these two companies so that all the issues are addressed properly.”

Almost all the political parties, including the state’s main Opposition party AGP and organisations like the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti have raised stiff opposition to the construction of the proposed mega dams in Arunachal Pradesh.

The power minister tactfully avoided the issue of halting the ongoing construction at the Lower Subansiri project until the proposed multi-disciplinary committee comes up with a confirmed and thorough study on it.

He also avoided the issue when asked about why the recent recommendations of the expert committee, formed by the state government, were not taken as the final ones and only said “there are contrasts among the experts”.

The expert committee on the mega dam, which submitted its report recently, recommended reducing of the dam height, attention to indigenous people’s rights, embankments of the river to be raised and strengthened and forestation of catchment areas.

The committee, which was formed by the state government, included experts from IIT Guwahati, Gauhati University and Dibrugarh University.

The minister also launched a scathing attack on the AGP and alleged that the party was trying to take political mileage out of the issue.

“The AGP government had always been supporting the large dams and wrote to the Centre several times when they were in power. However, they are now trying to politicise the issue by opposing the construction of dams,” he added.