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Resume Subansiri unit: Legislators

Assam Assembly unites on hydel power project as fear of fresh agitation looms

By A staff reporter in Guwahati
  • Published 10.03.17

Guwahati, March 9: The Assam Assembly today unanimously called the BJP-led state government to initiate steps for the resumption of the now-stalled 2,000MW Lower Subansiri hydel project, which could trigger fresh protests by agitating groups in the state.

Protests by anti-dam activists against possible environmental impact, including in the downstream areas in Assam have forced the project, situated along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border, on hold since December 2011.

BJP legislator Debananda Hazarika, while raising the issue in the Assembly today, said resumption of the project is significant to meet the growing demand for power from industry groups willing to invest in Assam.

"Since local power generation is low and we have only 43 per cent high-value customers, we are unable to provide electricity to the industry at a cheap rate. Once the Lower Subansiri project is commissioned, we will be able to meet the power need of the industry for development of the state," Hazarikasaid.

Assam will get 533MW power from the project being implemented by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC).

The leader of the Opposition, DebabrataSaikia, said the Congress was in favour of finding a solution for resumption of work of the project.

Ramendra Narayan Kalita of the AGP said the state government should hold talks with the agitating groups to address concerns about possible adverse impact of the dam and at the same time increase the share of free power.

"The state government should take it up with the Centre that Assam should also be supplied free power of 12 per cent as offered to Arunachal Pradesh. Assam has been offered 5.5 per cent free power only. It has become a sensitive issue and the state government should handle the issue very carefully," he said.

Kalita, however, did not oppose the project although the AGP had opposed construction of a big dam for the project before it forged an alliance with the BJP and became part of the state government.

Imanuel Mushahary of the BPF, another ally of the government, also called for resumption of work of the NHPC project for dedicated power supply to Assam.

The AIUDF also called for increasing share of free power to Assam without opposing the dam.

Ashok Singhal of the BJP linked commissioning of the 2,000MW project with China's reported move to divert water of the Brahmaputra known as Tsangpo in that country.

"We do not have a water-sharing agreement with China like the one with Pakistan and Bhutan. Taking advantage of this, China is constructing several dams in the Tsangpo and trying to divert its water. This could lead to shortage of water in the Brahmaputra. So if we want to move an international court for a bilateral water-sharing agreement with China, we will have to show that we need waters of the Brahmaputra for hydel projects like the Lower Subansiri. We are still lagging behind in proper use of our water resources," he said.

Power minister Pallab Lochan Das said steps had already been taken to address the concerns regarding technical and environmental issues of the project.