Panel to study hydel project

The Eastern zone bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday asked the Union ministry of environment and forests to constitute a three-member committee to study the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project.

By RAJIV KONWAR in Guwahati
  • Published 17.10.17
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Guwahati: The Eastern zone bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday asked the Union ministry of environment and forests to constitute a three-member committee to study the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project.

The order was passed in a case (346/2013) filed by an NGO, Assam Public Works, headed by Aabhijeet Sharma.

Work on the 2,000MW power project of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) Ltd on the Assam-Arunachal border was halted since December 2011 after protests by various organisations.

A two-member bench of Justice S.P. Wangdi and Justice P.C. Mishra asked the ministry to form the committee with three members, of whom at least one should be from the Northeast.

It said the committee should study the proposed alternative dam structure and the reports of the earlier committees and submit its report to the tribunal in three months.

The bench gave a month to the ministry to form the committee, which will have to visit the dam site and discuss the issue with the local people.

The APW had consulted experts to form an alternative design of the dam and submitted it to the tribunal. The NGO had suggested lowering the height of the dam from 115 metres to 81-86 metres.

The NGO had filed the case in the Supreme Court in 2012. However, the court asked it to approach the tribunal. It then filed the case with the Delhi branch of the NGT in 2013, which was later shifted to the eastern bench in Calcutta.

The tribunal said the ministry and the Assam and Arunachal Pradesh governments would have to bear the cost of the dam.

Sharma described the development as "positive". He said they had approached the court as they were concerned about the flora and fauna and added that they opposed big dams but believed that small hydro-electric projects would mitigate the power crisis without damaging the ecology. "As the tribunal has asked the committee to study its design, we will get an opportunity to argue in favour of small hydroelectric projects," he said.

Organisations like the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti have also opposed the project.

Recently, the KMSS had alleged that the NHPC has called a tender to resume the project. It had also alleged that their leader Akhil Gogoi was arrested under the National Securities Act to allow the NHPC to resume construction of the dam.