The Telegraph
Friday , June 12 , 2015

Pledge to take public opinion

- Central panel meets Neepco officials on hydel power

Lower Subansiri dam

Guwahati, June 11: The parliamentary committee on government assurances, which is touring northeastern states, today said it would take the people of the region into confidence before work on hydro power projects is undertaken.

The committee's chairman Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank told reporters this evening that the Centre has a "clear vision" regarding the overall development of the Northeast.

"We assure you that the people of the region will be taken into confidence before work on such projects are undertaken here," he said after chairing a meeting with officials of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (Neepco) here.

The Northeast, he said, "has the potential to generate 7,000MW of hydro power according to a survey but is currently generating only 3,000MW. "We had a threadbare discussion with Neepco officials who informed us about their concerted efforts to bridge this gap and boost the power scene in the region," Pokhriyal said.

The committee also had a meeting with officials of the India Tourism Development Corporation about development of tourism in the region.

"The Centre has accorded special focus to the Northeast and in the past year, work on promotion of tourism in the region has been going on at a faster pace. The number of foreign tourists to the region has doubled in the past year," Pokhriyal, former chief minister of Uttarakhand, said.

The committee said the government's assurances were being fulfilled at a fast pace. "As many as 2,600 assurances by the previous government are pending though," he added.

He said during a visit to the site where the Kedarnath tragedy (floods) took place in June 2013, it came to his notice that several bodies still lay buried in Kedarpuri. "We have demanded a CBI inquiry and informed the state government that work to dig the remains out should begin in 15 days," Pokhriyal said.

Protest over dams

Activists in Arunachal Pradesh today protested against the Centre's proposal to build two massive dams on the Siang.

Union water resources minister Uma Bharti had said in New Delhi on June 4 that "the solution to the Brahmaputra's perennial flow lies in middle Siang" and that the river was "the answer to floods in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam." After Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi claimed that his state had not been informed of any such proposal, Siang People's Forum, an NGO, raised its voice against the proposal. It called the Centre's plan discriminatory, imperialistic and an example of neo-colonialism.

In a statement faxed to Bharti and the Prime Minister's Office today, the forum said the plan to build the dams was "yet another example of Delhi's stepmotherly treatment towards the Northeast".

It criticised the Centre's policy on rivers, stating that "on the one hand you are diligently busy in Clean Ganga and Save Ganga and on the other hand you are planning a disaster on the Siang." Its general secretary, Oyar Gao, said the Siang was referred to as aane (mother) just like Ganga was called maiya.

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