GUWAHATI, July 12 � Advocating construction of the 2,000-MW Subansiri hydro-power project, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) General (retd) VK Singh today said the project would be beneficial for Assam.
�You are all aware of the Subansiri project that has been languishing for the past two year. The main problem is the type of propaganda that has been carried out that this project is harmful for Assam. I do not think so. I am quite convinced in my mind that both from the safety point of view as well as from the benefit point of view the project is good for Assam,� Singh told reporters here.
Addressing a press conference during his maiden visit to the State after taking over as DoNER Minister, Singh said that the issue of power is one of the major challenges for Assam.
He added that if the Subansiri project is completed, then the State will be a beneficiary as the 15 per cent free power could be distributed between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam and the State would not have to face �18-hour power cuts.�
About the groups who are allegedly involved in the �propaganda� against the project, Singh said, �I know the groups. I know about the propaganda. The answer lies in convincing them. We have to put out the facts.�
He said that while in the long run non-conventional energy sources will have to be adopted in a big way, in the short run conventional means like hydro power will continue to have relevance to tide over emerging needs.
Asked if the �propaganda� against the Subansiri project is driven by some vested interests, Singh replied in the affirmative and said, �I have said so� I stand by what I said.�
Regarding possibility of foreign hands being involved in propaganda, he said, �I do not have concrete proof and so I do not want to comment.�
Singh also dismissed any difference of opinion about big dams within the BJP and particularly on the Subansiri project.
�I am not aware what the BJP stand was. I know about the potential that exists (in the Subansiri project) and if we do not exploit it we will be depriving the people of its benefits. I am only talking of Subansiri and Subansiri is not a big project,� said the former Chief of Army Staff, who is also now the Minister of State for External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs.
He said the Power Ministry is looking at all big projects in Arunachal Pradesh to decide on any changes to be brought about in their structure.
Singh said that the Union Budget and the Railway Budget for 2014-15, presented in Parliament earlier this week, has resulted in huge jumps in allocations for the North Eastern region.
The Minister said he is well-versed with the issues affecting the region as he has served here for long during his Army career.
Singh said development in infrastructure, education and healthcare forms the triad for development of the region and the new BJP-led NDA government would focus on these sectors.
He said efforts would be made bring more quality educational institutions to the region and for skill development, particularly in the fields of hospitality, IT and healthcare, for youngsters of the region, as well as big names in healthcare.
He said efforts are on to increase air connectivity of the North East with South East Asian nations, besides establishing road and rail links with them.
Asked about Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi�s complaint that allocation to Assam in the Budget has been less that desired, Singh refrained from making any comment.