| General secretary of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti Akhil Gogoi during the protest rally in Guwahati on Tuesday. Picture by Eastern Projections |
Guwahati, Nov. 2: The anti-dam pressure group — Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) — today sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop construction of mega dams in the Northeast, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh.
The memorandum carried signatures of 1.13 lakh people from a cross-section of society supporting the Samiti’s stand. KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi also asked both Dispur and Delhi to consider today’s memorandum as the “last and final” warning.
Sources today said the Planning Commission has convened a meeting on hydroelectric projects in New Delhi on November 9.
It is understood that though the commission would discuss the issue, it had not mentioned it in its letter to Dispur.
“We have earlier given several memorandums to the government on the issue. However, the government had not paid any attention to our demands. So this is going to be the ‘last and final’ memorandum,” he said, adding that the organisations would now start a series of agitation.
The KMSS today sent the memorandum to the Prime Minister by Speedpost and sent copies to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Union minister for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh and Union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.
The Samiti also took out a protest rally today from the Nabagraha area in the city to Cotton College in Panbazar and held a meeting there.
Various civil society organisations and prominent intellectuals of the state participated in the meeting to endorse the views of the KMSS over the construction of mega dams.
“We are ready to give our blood but will not allow the construction of dams in the region,” said Gogoi, adding that they would launch massive agitation programmes anytime and that the government would be responsible if anything went wrong.
The memorandum referred to the expert committee recommendations about the dam at the present site of Lower Subansiri hydel project and demanded a complete moratorium on all clearances by the ministry of environment and forests on all proposed large dams and hydropower projects in the Northeast.
“We have also demanded that the Prime Minister withdraw the clearances granted without downstream impact assessment and public consent to the 2,000MW Lower Subansiri project, 1,750MW Demwe Lower and 1,500MW Tipaimukh projects,” Gogoi said.
The memorandum demanded the Prime Minister to commission a special study group comprising independent reviewers, scientists, social scientists and peoples’ representatives to study the environmental and social impact of all the existing dams in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan.
It also demanded that the Brahmaputra and its tributaries be protected as cultural and ecological endowments of the people of the region and country as a whole.
In a related development, a high-level NHPC team called on chief secretary N.K. Das today. Sources said though it was a courtesy call, the team discussed the concerns of Assam vis-à-vis the downstream impact of the dam.