GUWAHATI: Anti-dam organisations in Assam have erupted in protests after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) upheld a three-member expert committee by dismissing petitions that sought the reconstitution of the committee.
The petitions were filed by Tularam Gogoi, who is former leader of All Assam Students’ Union, and Abhijit Sarma, president of an organisation called Assam Public Works. They alleged the committee members were biased, a charge which an NGT bench dismissed.
The development is being seen in Assam as a move by the Centre to resume the work of Lower Subansiri Hydropower Project (LSHP) at Gerukamukh on Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border which seeks to generate 2000 MW of power. The work has remained stalled for nearly six years as the anti-dam protestors have not allowed the transportation of construction materials to the site.
Peasants’ body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samitee (KMSS) said the people of Assam would not accept the NGT order. KMSS leader and RTI activist Akhil Gogoi said a six-member committee was earlier formed by the Centre to study the project and give a report.
“Three of the committee members, who are from Assam, submitted a report ruling out construction at the site which is earthquake-prone. They said a project of such a magnitude there could never be built scientifically. However, the three other members submitted another report endorsing the project. Later another committee was formed but the three members in it were people of Government of India. As such, the petitioners had raised questions on the committee’s legality,” Gogoi said.
“The people of Assam will not accept the NGT order of yesterday (Wednesday). None with scientific temperament will accept this. How can a committee, whose legality is being questioned, submit a report and based on which an expert appraisal committee approve environment clearance?” he asked.
The AASU insisted the government should first ensure safety and security to the lives and property of people living downstream the project.
The LSHP is a Central government project which was approved allegedly without any proper study of the geotectonic and seismic conditions.
Scientists from the IIT-Guwahati and other universities in the state had earlier raised some key issues such as the inappropriate location and height of the dam. They recommended that the dam’s height be suitably reduced to minimize the impact downstream.