Guwahati, Nov. 15: The ministry of environment and forests has asked the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (Neepco) to study the downstream impact of the 1500MW Tipaimukh multipurpose hydro-electric project in Assam.
The ministry, in its clearance letter for the project dated October 24, said the downstream impact of the project in Assam should be studied in case of a dam break scenario.
“It has been estimated that a dam break flood could submerge all densely populated villages and large towns like Silchar will be under deep water,” it said.
A dam break study carried out by the Central Water Commission earlier had pointed out that a large number of towns in south Assam would be under water if the Tipa-imukh multipurpose hydroelectric project dam collapses.
The objective of the study was to prepare an emergency action plan to mitigate the risk of life and property.
The study revealed that if the dam broke, Silchar town would be under 7.7 metres of water, Hailakandi under 6 metres of water and Karimganj under 5.5 metres of water. Lakhipur town will suffer the most, as it will be submerged under 10 metres of water.
The towns which are likely to be submerged include Raja Bazar, Lakhipur, Banskandi, Palanghat, Udarbond, Dwarbond, Dolu, Silchar, Badarpur, Katlicherra, Kalain, Alambagh, Mahadebpur, Algapur, Hailakandi, Ratabari, Nilambazar, Karimganj, Bhanga and Patharkandi.
Sources said a comprehensive downstream impact assessment has not been conducted in Assam and only the government and people of Manipur and Mizoram (in which the submergence area lies) have been consulted.
The disaster management plan of the project states that representatives of district administration of Silchar, Hailakandi and Karimganj will be asked to be part of the disaster management committee. Even if the dam did not break, a sudden release of wa-ter downstream could lead to considerable flooding, sources said.
The ministry has called for real time telemetry stations in important towns linked with the central control station at the dam to be alerted at least six to 12 hours prior to the apprehended dam breach.
Neepco is executing the project. The expert appraisal committee for river valley and hydroelectric projects had observed that the Tipaimukh project has a few problems, particularly in the context of large submergence of forest area, major relief and rehabilitation requirements.
The Tipaimukh project envisages construction of a 162.8-metre high rockfill dam around 500 metres downstream of the confluence of river Barak with Tuivai.
The main objective of the project is to generate 1500MW hydropower and flood control along 2039 square km.
The total land requirement for the project is about 31,950 hectares.