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AASU, TMPK flay Govt role on mega dams

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 8 � The All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the Mising Students Union (TMPK) today came down heavily on the Assam Government for its failure to stop construction of mega dams in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh, and its incompetence in dealing with floods and erosion.

In a joint press meet held here, both the student bodies chastised the State Government for its' �failure to stop construction work of the Lower Subansiri hydro-electricity project, even though the interim report of an expert committee had stated that work should not continue till a down stream impact assessment was done�.

The student groups, aggrieved over the Government's response to the threat from the mega dam, said that they had decided on a protest action on March 12, where they would jointly highlight the issue in Guwahati. The demonstration has been designed to focus on the �government's poor response to the issue of big dams�.

Giving reasons for the proposed protest action, the student groups revealed that an expert committee comprising technical personnel from Gauhati University, Dibrugarh University, and IIT Guwahati had emphasised the need for a thorough downstream impact assessment of the Lower Subansiri project.

The committee in its interim reported also mentioned that work should be suspended till such a study was carried out. However, the National Hydro-electric Power Corporation (NHPC) has not heeded this advice, and the Assam Government too has not acted on it.

In such a situation, both the student groups believe that there is no alternative left to show their opposition to a development that �is likely to put at risk a large number of people in Assam�.

In the press meet, the role of a House Committee formed to study the issue of the dam also attracted criticism. According to the student groups, the committee was asking for an extension even at a time work on the dam was going when on.

AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya was blunt in stating that the Assam Government did not care for the interest of the local people, but �was taking dictation from the Union Government�. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has compromised with those pushing for the dam and with New Delhi, he asserted.

Bhattacharya was of the belief that not just for the Lower Subansiri dam, but down stream impact assessment was a requisite for all the mega dams proposed to be built in the North East. �A cumulative impact assessment is a must in this regard,� he noted.

Johan Doley of the Mising Students Union was equally forthright in condemning the State Government's stance regarding the dam, and said, �Gogoi had yielded to pressure, and so far nothing positive has been done to protect the interest of the people who would suffer from the dam�.

He further revealed that the construction of anti-erosion measures near Matmora had serious flaws on both the ends of the geo-tubes, and the company responsible for the project has not erected concrete porcupines, which is considered essential to stop erosion by the Brahmaputra.

President of the All Assam Students Union, Shankar Prasad Ray, told the media that the AASU was not anti development, but development should be achieved while ensuring the long term security of the people. Unfortunately, the Assam Government has failed to shoulder this responsibility by aligning itself to those promoting the controversial Lower Subansiri dam.

The students groups said that they were open to associate themselves with likeminded groups which would favour their stance vis-�-vis mega dams in the North East, but was not inclined to go in for a legal redress at this point of time.

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AASU, TMPK flay Govt role on mega dams

GUWAHATI, March 8 � The All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the Mising Students Union (TMPK) today came down heavily on the Assam Government for its failure to stop construction of mega dams in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh, and its incompetence in dealing with floods and erosion.

In a joint press meet held here, both the student bodies chastised the State Government for its' �failure to stop construction work of the Lower Subansiri hydro-electricity project, even though the interim report of an expert committee had stated that work should not continue till a down stream impact assessment was done�.

The student groups, aggrieved over the Government's response to the threat from the mega dam, said that they had decided on a protest action on March 12, where they would jointly highlight the issue in Guwahati. The demonstration has been designed to focus on the �government's poor response to the issue of big dams�.

Giving reasons for the proposed protest action, the student groups revealed that an expert committee comprising technical personnel from Gauhati University, Dibrugarh University, and IIT Guwahati had emphasised the need for a thorough downstream impact assessment of the Lower Subansiri project.

The committee in its interim reported also mentioned that work should be suspended till such a study was carried out. However, the National Hydro-electric Power Corporation (NHPC) has not heeded this advice, and the Assam Government too has not acted on it.

In such a situation, both the student groups believe that there is no alternative left to show their opposition to a development that �is likely to put at risk a large number of people in Assam�.

In the press meet, the role of a House Committee formed to study the issue of the dam also attracted criticism. According to the student groups, the committee was asking for an extension even at a time work on the dam was going when on.

AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya was blunt in stating that the Assam Government did not care for the interest of the local people, but �was taking dictation from the Union Government�. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has compromised with those pushing for the dam and with New Delhi, he asserted.

Bhattacharya was of the belief that not just for the Lower Subansiri dam, but down stream impact assessment was a requisite for all the mega dams proposed to be built in the North East. �A cumulative impact assessment is a must in this regard,� he noted.

Johan Doley of the Mising Students Union was equally forthright in condemning the State Government's stance regarding the dam, and said, �Gogoi had yielded to pressure, and so far nothing positive has been done to protect the interest of the people who would suffer from the dam�.

He further revealed that the construction of anti-erosion measures near Matmora had serious flaws on both the ends of the geo-tubes, and the company responsible for the project has not erected concrete porcupines, which is considered essential to stop erosion by the Brahmaputra.

President of the All Assam Students Union, Shankar Prasad Ray, told the media that the AASU was not anti development, but development should be achieved while ensuring the long term security of the people. Unfortunately, the Assam Government has failed to shoulder this responsibility by aligning itself to those promoting the controversial Lower Subansiri dam.

The students groups said that they were open to associate themselves with likeminded groups which would favour their stance vis-�-vis mega dams in the North East, but was not inclined to go in for a legal redress at this point of time.

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