GUWAHATI, Sept 15 - It is as if the Central Government is feverishly bent on constructing all the proposed hydroelectric power plants (HEPs) in the Northeast without bothering about the plight of the people of the region, particularly those in Assam, who will be at the receiving end being at the downstream of all these projects.
Significantly, the BJP-led Central Government has also become oblivious of the pledges made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself on the issue at the election rallies of his party during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The hurriedness of the Central Government in bulldozing its decision on the hydroelectric projects in the Northeast has come to light with the August 24 and 25, 2015 meeting of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on river valley and hydroelectric projects recommending construction of 26 out of the 28 HEPs in the Subansiri river basin without bothering for any public consultation, either in Arunachal Pradesh or in Assam.
Besides, it recommended for environmental clearance of the 96-MW Mago Chhu (Tawang) HEP, 96-MW Nyukcharong Chhu (Tawang) HEP, 90-MW New Melling (Tawang) HEP, 66-MW Kangtangshiri (West Siang) HEP and the 74-MW Tagurshit (West Siang) HEP. Both the West Siang projects were subject to the recommendation of the Siang river basin study. But this study has been accepted by the MoEFCC without any public consultation in the Siang valley.
Moreover, the EAC has shortened the time frame for completing the Dibang and Kameng basin studies and asked for carrying out only the monsoon baseline surveys for the studies. Their time frame has now been reduced by nine months from the initially proposed 21 months.
It is pertinent to mention here that the 3,097-MW Etalin HEP is one of the major Dibang basin projects, which is awaiting environment clearance. Meanwhile, the EAC has accepted the Tawang River Basin Study report, which was completed without public consultation in Tawang. The report has recommended construction of 11 out of the 13 proposed HEPs in the Tawang basin.
Out of the 28 planned HEPs in the Subansiri river basin, two HEPs � 800-MW Niare and 55-MW Tammu � have been recommended for dropping. Other three HEPs � 700-MW Oju-I, 1,000-MW Oju-II, and 1,000-MW Naba � have been recommended to be redesigned as they �do not meet requirement of free flowing stretch of 1 km between two adjacent HEPs.� This recommendation for redesigning the projects, in fact, does not mean their rejection.