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Expert panel�s minutes raise concern

By staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Oct 31 � The minutes of the October 7 meeting of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has raised many an eyebrow here. The EAC has uploaded the minutes to the Ministry website in a manner that makes the people belief that it is the finalized minutes of the meeting and the views offered in it are the views of the EAC.

In fact, the views offered in the minutes represent the views of the NHPC authorities. Those cannot be the views of the EAC, said some of the EAC members when contacted by this correspondent.

Again, it is learnt that it has become a practice of the EAC to accept the draft minutes of its meeting as the final ones without effecting any change to the draft. This has also raised concern among the conscious people here. Moreover, the fact that the EAC has failed to invite the expert group of Assam to defend their report while discussing it on October 7 has also made several quarters here resentful.

The EAC is sitting again to discuss the report of the expert group and this time also the NHPC representatives will be present. However, there is no decision on the part of the EAC to invite the members of the expert group to defend their report.

How the EAC presented its October 7 meeting discussion in its minutes is evident from the quoted lines here � �The report (expert group�s) and its recommendations were critically examined by the EAC in consultation with the representatives of NHPC. �The outcome of the discussion is given below:

�It was noted that Brahmaputra Board proposed construction of a 257 meter high rock fill dam during 1983. �This was again reviewed by the Brahmaputra Board itself during 1995 taking into consideration the likely submergence of few upstream towns and the height was reduced to 116 meter��

Again, the minutes say: �After carefully examining the issues raised in the report the EAC was of the opinion that there are several deficiencies in the report. In respect of

river characteristics, sediment load and water quality. Data employed is too old to reflect the present trend. �The rating curves actually exhibit shifts in rating curve due to bed and bank erosion activities. �These however do

not represent the present scenario...�

Significantly, the above data were supplied to the expert group by the NHPC itself. The EAC assertion on the fault regarding the equation used in the dam break analysis by the expert group is also not correct, said one of the members of the expert group.

Voluntary organization Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) in a latter to the Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, has expressed its resentment over the EAC�s act of inviting the NHPC and ignoring the members of the expert group to the October 7 meeting for evaluating the expert group�s report on the downstream impact of the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project (LSHEP).

It has pleaded that the members of the expert group should be invited to the meeting of the EAC to defend their report and the original reports on which the environmental clearance was granted to the project should be critically examined.

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