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Arunachal goes ahead with hydro project, despite Assam protests

By The Assam Tribune

GERUKAMUKH (Arunachal Pradesh), Sept 16 (IANS): The 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Power Project in Arunachal Pradesh will be commissioned by 2014 despite strident protests in Assam over environmental concerns, project builders said Friday.

"More than 50 percent of the construction work has been completed and we hope to commission the entire project by December 2014," National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) executive director A.K. Chabbra told IANS.

The nearly Rs.9,000 crore project that began in 2003 is mired in a blazing row with several environmental and pressure groups in Assam making vociferous protests and demanding the scrapping of construction work, citing adverse ecological and environmental impact in downstream areas in Assam.

"We welcome and invite all such pressure groups to visit the project site along with experts who are well versed with dam designing and construction to see whether we have adhered to environmental and other such stipulated guidelines or not," the NHPC official said.

"Safety of the people is of paramount importance to us and we are not going to compromise on safety norms."

Such was the intensity of protests that police over the weekend resorted to teargas shelling and firing rubber bullets to disperse the protestors opposed to offloading of two sets of turbines from a Bangladesh barge for onward transportation to the NHPC project site.

"Big dams would lead to catastrophic environmental hazards in downstream areas in Assam," said Samujjal Bhattacharyya, advisor of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU).

"We shall oppose tooth and nail any move by the NHPC to transport materials to the project site through Assam," the AASU leader said.

The only way to transport equipment to Arunachal Pradesh is by road through Assam.

The NHPC official said all prior environmental clearances were taken before starting construction of the project.

"We had taken clearances from the Central Water Commission, the Central Electricity Authority, and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs for the Subansiri project," Chhabra said.

The Arunachal Pradesh government has signed MoUs with several private firms for 10 major hydropower projects to generate an estimated 30,000 MW power in 10 years.

The state, bordering Myanmar and the Tibet region, has the potential to generate an estimated 50,000 MW of hydropower.

Among the major projects currently being executed in the state are the Ranganadi project, the Subansari project and the Taloh power project.

Despite stiff opposition, the Arunachal Pradesh government is determined to continue the construction of dams.

"We are happy and welcome the NHPC's announcement that the Subansiri project would be commissioned in 2014," Arunachal Pradesh MP Takam Sanjay told IANS.

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Arunachal goes ahead with hydro project, despite Assam protests

GERUKAMUKH (Arunachal Pradesh), Sept 16 (IANS): The 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Power Project in Arunachal Pradesh will be commissioned by 2014 despite strident protests in Assam over environmental concerns, project builders said Friday.

"More than 50 percent of the construction work has been completed and we hope to commission the entire project by December 2014," National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) executive director A.K. Chabbra told IANS.

The nearly Rs.9,000 crore project that began in 2003 is mired in a blazing row with several environmental and pressure groups in Assam making vociferous protests and demanding the scrapping of construction work, citing adverse ecological and environmental impact in downstream areas in Assam.

"We welcome and invite all such pressure groups to visit the project site along with experts who are well versed with dam designing and construction to see whether we have adhered to environmental and other such stipulated guidelines or not," the NHPC official said.

"Safety of the people is of paramount importance to us and we are not going to compromise on safety norms."

Such was the intensity of protests that police over the weekend resorted to teargas shelling and firing rubber bullets to disperse the protestors opposed to offloading of two sets of turbines from a Bangladesh barge for onward transportation to the NHPC project site.

"Big dams would lead to catastrophic environmental hazards in downstream areas in Assam," said Samujjal Bhattacharyya, advisor of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU).

"We shall oppose tooth and nail any move by the NHPC to transport materials to the project site through Assam," the AASU leader said.

The only way to transport equipment to Arunachal Pradesh is by road through Assam.

The NHPC official said all prior environmental clearances were taken before starting construction of the project.

"We had taken clearances from the Central Water Commission, the Central Electricity Authority, and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs for the Subansiri project," Chhabra said.

The Arunachal Pradesh government has signed MoUs with several private firms for 10 major hydropower projects to generate an estimated 30,000 MW power in 10 years.

The state, bordering Myanmar and the Tibet region, has the potential to generate an estimated 50,000 MW of hydropower.

Among the major projects currently being executed in the state are the Ranganadi project, the Subansari project and the Taloh power project.

Despite stiff opposition, the Arunachal Pradesh government is determined to continue the construction of dams.

"We are happy and welcome the NHPC's announcement that the Subansiri project would be commissioned in 2014," Arunachal Pradesh MP Takam Sanjay told IANS.