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Centre’s assurance on dam

Guwahati, July 5: The Centre today assured that all stakeholders would be taken into confidence before resuming work on the 2,000-MW lower Subansiri hydroelectric project at Gerukamukh, situated along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.

A communiqué issued by the Press Information Bureau today said Union minister of state with independent charge for skill development, entrepreneurship, youth affairs and sports Sarbananda Sonowal met his ministerial colleague Piyush Goyal to apprise him of the concern in Assam regarding the Subansiri project.

Goyal is minister of state with independent charge for power, coal, new and renewable energy.

Sonowal is also the president of the Assam unit of the BJP.

Goyal told Sonowal that a meeting of various stakeholders would be called shortly to discuss their concerns along with experts in field of big dam construction to generate electricity.

He added that no construction of the Subansiri project would be undertaken till the matter is sorted out, the communiqué stated.

The Centre’s assurance has come amid protests against the BJP-led NDA government’s latest move to resume construction of Subansiri project.

Construction of the mega power project has remained stalled for over two years following stiff opposition by anti-dam organisations in Assam.

The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and All Assam Students Union (AASU), which are spearheading the anti-dam movement, said Assam would have to bear the brunt of the adverse environmental hazards from the project as it is located in the downstream area.

The KMSS, AJYCP and AASU have lodged a strong protest against the latest of the move of the Centre and said the development has exposed the doublespeak of the BJP.

The Jorhat district committee of Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad burnt effigies of Piyush Goyal here today in protest against the Centre’s bid to kickstart the stalled Lower Subansiri project after holding discussions with the stakeholders.

The BJP had also opposed construction of the lower Subansiri dam and leaders like Rajnath Singh have been to the project site at Gerukamukh in the past to register the party’s opposition.

Even before the 2011 Assembly election, the BJP, in its poll manifesto, made it clear that it was against the project.

Goyal recently held a meeting with Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Nabam Tuki in New Delhi and assured him of resolving the stalemate over the Lower Subansiri.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said his government has not put any pressure on the central government to restart work on the Lower Subansiri hydel power project.

“Our stand has all along been clear that we are in favour of the project if it benefits the state but not at the cost of suffering of the people. The project should take into consideration all dam safety aspects and suitably address the downstream impact and on ecology. Flood moderation should also be a critical component of the project,” Gogoi said in a statement issued here this afternoon.

The chief minister said it was the state government on its own that had taken the initiative to constitute an expert committee and a group of ministers to thoroughly study all issues connected with the power project and initiate suitable follow-up actions accordingly.

“Our government forwarded the report of the expert committee to the Union ministry of power and wanted it to take further steps. Thereafter, the central government also constituted various expert committees,” he added.

Gogoi said it was up to the Centre whether it wanted to go ahead with the project. “The Centre has to take the final call whether it wants to go ahead with the power project. The ball is in their court. The question of putting pressure on the Centre to start resumption of work of the power project does not arise,” he said.

Gogoi said the state would, however, provide necessary security, if required, to the engineers and workers involved in the construction of the power project.


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