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Arunachal MP swipe irks big dam activists

Pasighat (Arunachal Pradesh), Jan. 11: Arunachal Pradesh MP Takam Sanjoy today dubbed opposition to NHPC’s 2000MW Lower Subansiri hydel project as one backed by Maoists.

To this the movement’s spearhead, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), responded by calling the parliamentarian “a public relations officer of corporate houses”.

Sanjoy said Maoists and forces inimical to the interests of the country were backing the movement. He was addressing the public during the foundation-laying ceremony of the Arunachal’s second state university here this morning. Chief minister Nabam Tuki laid the foundation stone.

“But I appeal to all to see reason because such a movement will not only harm the Northeast but also our country. We need power. I was also a student leader but after having joined the government I have realised that such agitations do not help,” he said.

Later, he told The Telegraph that the suspected Maoist role in the movement was also raised in Parliament.

Work on the NHPC project has been stalled since December 2010, following an anti-big dam movement spearheaded by the KMSS. KMSS publicity secretary Kamal Medhi told The Telegraph in Guwahati that if Sanjoy was so sure, why didn’t he prove it or take up the organisation’s challenge for a public debate. “All those speaking against the agitation or in favour of the big dam are speaking on behalf of the corporate houses who are putting up around 168 dams in Arunachal. Sanjoy is also a PRO of corporate houses. They try to brand us as Maoist because we are seen as the main hurdle. It is only natural nowadays for a democratic organisation raising genuine concerns of the people to get branded as Maoist,” he said.

Sanjoy’s attack on the anti-dam agitators comes close on the heels of Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Nabam Tuki’s assertion at a December 27 National Development Council meeting in Delhi that “irrational” objections from certain sections of people in Assam had halted the project. He said no effective step had been taken by either the Centre or the Assam government to check this.