GUWAHATI, July 23 � Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi will raise the concerns of the State vis-�-vis adverse downstream impacts of the Lower Subansiri Hydro-electric Project at a meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) tomorrow. He will follow it up at another meeting with the National Hydro-Electric Power Corporation (NHPC) authorities the next day.
The NDC is concerned with approval and implementation of all major development projects of the country.
Informing this, State Power Minister Pradyut Bardoloi today said that the State Government was deeply concerned about any possible adverse fallout of the project � be it ecological or arising out of the region�s seismic vulnerability or downstream impacts � and it had made it known to the Centre in the urgency it deserved.
Bardoloi, however, added in the same breath that it could be possible to build large dams with modern technological interventions if experts recommended to that effect.
�We are taking the expert committee (constituted following a meeting between the All Assam Students� Union and the NHPC) report very seriously and have submitted it to the Centre�since a number of ministries and agencies are involved in the Lower Subansiri project, different expert groups are likely to conduct further independent studies,� he said.
Bardoloi said that Assam was also apprehensive of the many big hydro-electric projects that are likely to come up in Arunachal Pradesh. �We have already voiced our concern as Arunachal is said to have entered into a number of MoUs with the developers of the projects. As for Assam, we have not signed a single MoU so far over hydro-power projects,� he said.
Claiming that he was among the first to question the viability of big dams in the region without adequate scientific study, Bardoloi said that he had written a letter to the Centre on June 10, 2005, calling for a cumulative impact assessment of the Lower Subansiri project. �Since then the Chief Minister has also taken up the matter at different fora, including at the inter-ministerial group constituted for the purpose,� he said.
According to Bardoloi, both the AGP and the AASU which are now vehemently opposing big dams had actually supported implementation of such projects earlier. �When he was Chief Minister, Prafulla Mahanta wrote a letter to then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on September 14, 1988, calling for timely implementation of the Lower Subansiri and Debang projects. The AASU had submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister on August 14, 1986, demanding multi-purpose hydel projects in the State,� he said, adding that these parties or organizations had no moral right to accuse the present Chief Minister of double standards. �It is the AGP and the AASU which are showing double standards,� he added.
Giving a background of the Lower Subansiri project, the Minister said that the Brahmaputra Board had submitted a master plan on the feasibility of the project in 1986. The height suggested at that time was 257 metre as against the 113 metre recommended now.