National Green Tribunal seeks reply in three weeks on Subansiri dam

GUWAHATI: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has given an ultimatum of three weeks to the Assam government to file its reply on the Lower Subansiri Hydro Electric Power (LSHEP) dam on Monday.

Earlier, the tribunal had asked all respondents in the case - state governments of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), ministry of power, NHPC - to file their responses within March 3. But the state government sought for more time again.

The NGT issued notices to all respondents regarding the release of minimum sustenance water at the rate of 450 cumecs from the lower Subansiri dam throughout the year to ensure the river's ecological health.

"The tribunal slammed the Assam government for its delay and said it was unacceptable as it's a serious matter. The MoEF and the ministry of power too could not file their replies. The tribunal gave the ultimatum of three weeks to all parties to file their responses and said the hearing on the matter will start from March 25," Abhijeet Sarma, petitioner in the case told TOI.

On Monday, NHPC and the government of Arunachal Pradesh filed their replies. "The NHPC said that it will release 220-250 cumecs of water by keeping one turbine running. But it's far less than the minimum sustenance flow of 450 cumecs. Moreover, who will guarantee that there won't be any malfunctioning in the turbine? Any disruption of flow, even if it is for a short period, will annihilate the downstream biota of the river," the petitioner added.

Besides the minimum sustainable water flow, the petitioner also requested that a 'fish ladder' be located at the dam's opening to allow fish migration.

The petitioner, who is also the president of an NGO named Assam Public Works, approached NGT after the Supreme Court declined to intervene in the case, considering it to be a technical matter, in September last year.