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Neepco move sparks worry

The North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited's (Neepco) move to raise the height of the Khandong reservoir in Assam's Dima Hasao district by six metres has sparked concern among villagers living in downstream areas of the Kopili river.

By SARAT SARMA in Nagaon
  • Published 16.09.15
  •  

Nagaon, Sept. 15: The North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited's (Neepco) move to raise the height of the Khandong reservoir in Assam's Dima Hasao district by six metres has sparked concern among villagers living in downstream areas of the Kopili river.

Villagers in Nagaon and Morigaon districts fear that more water in the reservoir might lead to a catastrophe during the monsoon. At the same time, there is concern that more areas in upstream Meghalaya might be submerged.

The apprehensions gained momentum following Neepco's move to install a gate in Khandong reservoir in Dima Hasao's Garampani area, which would increase the dam height from 719 to 725 metres. The corporation, however, claimed the initiative was to conserve water for the dry season and ensure power generation round the year.

Neepco started constructing the gate recently and this came to the notice of villagers living in downstream areas of the Kopili. The reservoir is located on the Assam-Meghalaya border, around 300km from Guwahati.

A high-level Neepco source today said installation of the gate would help generate more power in winter since the additional height would pave the way for storing more water in summer. "Some parts of Meghalaya would be submerged but those areas fall under the corporation's land acquired from the state government. The two states would not face any problem because of the new gate," the source said.

The Kopili Hydroelectric Project, spread across Dima Hasao in Assam and Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya, consists of the Khandong and Umrangso dams, their reservoirs and three powerhouses that produce 275MW. The project was completed in 1979. Last year, the corporation created a record by producing 192 million units of power per month from the project.

A Dima Hasao administration source said they were in the dark regarding the increased dam height.

"The corporation should intimate the administration when such a move is taken up. But we have not been officially intimated till today," the source said.

Neepco authorities, however, said they followed all official formalities including taking permission from the Central Water Commission to install the gate.

The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, which is spearheading a campaign against the construction of big dams in the Northeast, demanded a scientific study by a team of experts.

"We have seen how floods have affected farmers in the downstream areas of the Kopili. So, the Neepco move to raise the height of the reservoir is bound to raise apprehensions. We suggest a scientific study and want the authorities to take the villagers' consent," KMSS adviser Kamal Medhi told The Telegraph.