Meet calls for tech aid to tackle Assam flood

A flooded village in Assam's Golaghat district. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati: The ministry of home affairs has decided to convene an inter-ministerial meeting at the earliest to discuss the flash floods caused in Assam by hydel projects located in neighbouring states as there "can be no solution without technical intervention".

The assurance was given by Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju to Dispur on August 5 after his visit to Nagaland to take stock of the damage caused by floods and landslides triggered by incessant rainfall.

Sources told The Telegraph that senior bureaucrat Rajesh Prasad had briefed Rijiju at the airport on the "direction" of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal about the havoc caused by Neepco's Doyang and Ranganadi projects to life and property in Assam. Officials of the The ministry of home affairs and National Disaster Management Authority were present at the briefing.

"The senior officer had said there was always flooding in the downstream areas whenever there was heavy rain and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (Neepco)'s inability to manage excess water. Based on field reports, Prasad conveyed there was no other way but to look for technical solution as the 75MW Doyang project, located in Wokha district of Nagaland, has not been able to manage the huge volume of water," the source said. The 405MW Ranganadi project, located in Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal, too, has been causing lot of damage downstream whenever there is heavy rainfall. "Appreciating the concern of Assam, Rijiju said he will convene an inter-ministerial meeting since the solution lies in technical intervention," the source said.

Neepco's Doyang and Ranganadi (405MW) hydel projects are both run-of-the-river projects. The release of excess water by the Doyang project flooded over 100 villages and affected over 90,000 people, leaving five dead, early this month. The flash flood has been the biggest and most devastating that Golaghat district has witnessed till date. Release of excess water from the Ranganadi project had affected 45 villages and 25,000 people last year while it affected 30 villages and 5,000 people this year. Sources also said Neepco had for all practical purposes expressed "helplessness" in controlling the flow of excess water except "warning" the state administration. Retaining the water for long could pose a "threat" to the dam itself.

"We hope the home ministry convenes the meeting as soon as possible and a solution is worked out or downstream people in Assam will continue to suffer whenever there is heavy rain. This time the bursting of an artificial dam in the upper reaches compounded the problem at Doyang," the source said.


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