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Call for study of hydel projects

Subansiri dam

Guwahati, Sept. 4: Environmentalists who converged here today stressed the need to take into account the social, economic, environmental and technological aspects of hydroelectricity projects coming up in the Northeast.

The experts said the projects should be allowed only if they benefit stakeholders, particularly the people who will be directly affected.

The meeting, organised by the Centre for Environment, Social and Policy Research in collaboration with the Indian Network of Ethics and Climate Change at the Assam Science Society’s auditorium, said while a large number of hydel projects were coming up in the region, no proper study had been undertaken by the state governments or the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation on their impact on the environment and people.

“Several small and large scale hydel projects are in the pipeline in the northeastern states and an estimated 1,00,000MW of electricity will be produced by them. But the total electricity requirement for the Northeast is about 3,500MW. Then why are so many hydel projects required in this region? Besides no proper research has been undertaken to study the downstream effects and other environmental effects of these projects so far,” environmentalist and activist Ajita Tiwari said.

“We have seen that in case of similar hydel, windmill energy and solar projects in the country, the people on whose land such projects came up failed to get any worthwhile benefit in the long run. Most of the time, the government or private companies acquire the land from these people in exchange for a meagre amount. While the companies involved promise to generate employment through these projects, people do not always get employment and end up losing their land,” environmentalist Myron Mendis said.

The companies and state governments are also required to hold meetings with stakeholders before going ahead with the projects so that they may know the repercussions of the projects. But this does not happen. “We, as the civil society, should demand that the government and the companies engaged in the projects inform the public about how these will benefit them socially and economically. They should also come clean on whether the projects will have any detrimental impact on the environment and how they will help to enhance a new technology. It is essential to raise our voices against such profit-seeking ventures that do not in reality lead to sustainable development,” Tiwari said.