Guwahati, Nov. 15: The Post Graduate Students’ Union of Gauhati University has demanded legal action against a forum of former general secretaries of the union for allegedly defaming the name of the institution.
The union today submitted a memorandum to vice-chancellor Okhil Kumar Medhi, urging him to file a defamation case against the “so-called” forum for misusing the name of Gauhati University to fulfil their personal and political interests.
Accusing the forum of acting as a mouthpiece for the government, the union’s general secretary Hrishikesh Baruah said a handful of former general secretaries with vested interests have constituted the forum at the behest of some ministers of the Tarun Gogoi cabinet to shape public opinion in favour of big dams in the Northeast.
The forum had organised a conference on Solution to Probable Problems in Assam for Dams in Arunachal Pradesh on October 8 and the experts had expressed themselves in favour of the project by describing hydropower as a clean and green source of energy. According to them, it is the “most sensible way” of meeting the country’s electricity needs.
“We have demanded that the university authorities file a defamation case against the forum for tarnishing the image of their alma mater for personal gains,” Baruah said.
The union general secretary said the forum had no locus standi to represent the university as it was not constituted with the approval of the students or the authorities.
He demanded that the government must immediately stop construction of the 2,000-MW Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project in Arunachal Pradesh, bordering Assam, for its adverse fallout in the downstream areas of the Subansiri, covering at least three districts of Assam.
Baruah said there was no need for holding a separate conference by the forum when an expert panel, comprising representatives from Gauhati University, Dibrugarh University and IIT Guwahati, had recommended not to construct the mega dam at the present site at Gerukamukh.
“The selected site for the mega dam of the present dimension was not appropriate in such a geologically and seismologically sensitive location. The seismic design parameter is not properly chosen for the project. Further, from geological, tectonic and seismological points of view, the expert group suggested not to consider the Himalayan foothills for any mega hydropower project,” Baruah, quoting the report of the panel, said.
The expert panel was constituted as a result of a tripartite meeting between AASU, the state government and the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation to study downstream impact of the dam and it submitted its report in June this year.
“The so-called forum of former general secretaries of the Post Graduate Students’ Union has ignored the report of the expert panel, which had professors of Gauhati University, and went ahead to organise a conference by inviting experts from outside the state at the behest of some ministers in an apparent attempt to mould public opinion in favour of the dam,” Baruah said.
“In that process, they have shown disrespect to the local experts from IIT Guwahati, Gauhati University and Dibrugarh University and we demand unconditional apology from them. They have scant regard for the safety and security of the people in the downstream areas who will bear the brunt of the adverse environmental impacts of the dam.”
The union threatened to launch an agitation if the government did not stop the construction of the dam immediately.