Students, peasants join hands against mega dams, NRC delay

GUWAHATI: Randip Saikia, a farmer from Lakhimpur took, time off from his chores on his paddy field on Saturday to attend a public rally in the city, called by All Assam Students' Union (Aasu), including 25 other students' and ethic groups, against a mega dam construction and dithering on the updating of the NRC.

Randip was one among 10,000 peasants who gathered at the city's Lotashil playground on Saturday morning to warn the state government against continuing with the ongoing construction of the Lower Subansiri Mega Hydel project. The joint movement announced to block the barges carrying the nine turbines for the Lower Subansiri.

Earlier, chief minister Tarun Gogoi had said that the state government would take the barges at any cost to the dam site. The barges carrying the dam logistics are waiting for a clearance for a year as Aasu and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity have blocked the barges from reaching the dam site from time to time.

"Aasu has been asking the state government to halt the ongoing construction for a long time but it's sad that the state government has paid no attention to our demands. We are not against power generation, we are only against the construction of the mega dam. Even the expert committee constituted by state government has scrapped the idea of a mega dam in the region," said Aasu advisor Samujjal Bhattacharjee.

The study conducted by the expert committee constituting Gauhati University, Dibrugarh University and IIT Guwahati, had highlighted the seismic vulnerability of the dam along with many other design related faults.

Aasu also slammed the state government's reluctance in updating the National Registrar of Citizenship (NRC). "The government is trying to guard a section of the population by not updating the NRC. It is only concentrating on the vote bank politics, ignoring the greater interest of the state and the Assamese community," said AASU president Shankar Ray.

Echoing Aasu's demand, the Takam Mising Parin Kaubang (TMPK), a tribal group, asked the state government to start updating the NRC immediately.

"The government put a halt to the NRC update due to the violence in Barpeta district. That's why we demand the state government to start the NRC update from Dhemaji district this time. But the update should be started immediately to solve the influx problem of the state," said TMPK leader Ranoj Pegu.

In July 2010, four people were killed and 70 were injured during a clash when police open fired on a 5,000 strong crowd of protesters led by the All Assam Minority Students Union (Aamsu) in Barpeta who were demanding the cancellation of the updating process of the NRC, undertaken in Barpeta as a pilot project by the Central government.

Meanwhile, Rabha Students' Union demanded that the NRC should be updated on the basis of the cut-off year of 1971."The historic Assam Agitation happened to solve the influx problem of the state, followed by the signing of Assam Accord. But neither Delhi nor Dispur is acting efficiently to implement the accord. The NRC should be updated on the basis of 1971 as the cut-off year. Anyone who came after this period should not be considered as the legal citizen of the state," said Raghunath Rabha of Rabha Students' Union.