Tura, May 8: The Meghalaya government has temporarily suspended ongoing construction work at a controversial dam in East Garo Hills. Anti-dam protesters, however, refused to pay heed to the “gesture” and warned of continuing their agitation.
A two-day office picketing of state government departments in East Garo Hills district headquarters of Williamnagar, 85km from Tura, paralysed official work to a great extent yesterday and today. Barring the police and health departments and banking institutions, most government offices registered almost nil attendance.
The agitation is being spearheaded by a group of social and student organisations from the region who are against the Daribokgre dam over apprehension it could spark an ecological disaster for the Simsang river.
The Daribokgre stream feeds the Simsang with fresh water from the foothills of the Nokrek national biosphere and park in the Garo hills. The state government issued a letter from the state chief secretary to the joint action committee (JAC) in Williamnagar highlighting the state’s decision to halt the work at the dam “temporarily” and also called on the protesters to call off their agitation.
“We decided against calling off our protest since the government has only temporarily halted the project whereas we are demanding a complete cancellation of the work and dismantling the dam,” said JAC chairman Taison D. Shira this evening.
The Meghalaya government, in an official letter to the JAC, mentioned that the principal secretary for PHE, P. W. Ingty, has been entrusted to prepare a powerpoint presentation on the pros and cons of the dam over Daribokgre stream.
The presentation would first be shown to Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma and subsequently to a delegation of the JAC leaders in Williamnagar sometime next week.
“The government is ready to discuss the matter with the agitators and this is the reason it has given an official letter from the chief secretary,” said deputy commissioner of East Garo Hills V.K. Mantri.