Centre calls meet with states, agitators over Subansiri project in Assam

Guwahati: The Union power ministry has called a two-day meeting with experts and agitating groups with a view to ending the impasse over construction of 2,000 MW Subansiri hydro project in Assam.

According to official sources, the meeting over the delayed power project by NHPC on 10-11 December will be chaired by Power Minister Piyush Goyal and co-chaired by Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

 Centre calls meet with states, agitators over Subansiri project in Assam

Mega dams for power? Reuters

"The first meeting tomorrow will be an in-house one, where the Minister will take stock of the ground situation with state government officials of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, NHPC Chairman and MD, expert from various institutes like Gauhati University, Dubrugarh University, IIT-Guwahati and Central Water Commission," the official told PTI.

"The second meeting on Thursday will be with representatives of agitating groups. All together, 26 groups have been invited for talks," the source said.

Some of the prominent organisations invited for the talks include Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP).

"The main focus during the second meeting with agitators will be to make them understand that the dam is going to be
beneficial for the Assam and the entire North East.

"NHPC and the power ministry will ensure that all safety mechanisms be in place while constructing the dam," the official said.

Construction work of the ambitious project at Gerukamukh along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border on Subansiri river has been stalled since December 2011 after protests by locals and many groups fearing safety and downstream impact.

Although many organisations are opposing it, the protests were primarily led by the KMSS. The AASU has also organised a
number of protests and rallies.

The Centre had allocated a total Rs 11,000 crore as on December 2010 for construction of the dam.

Initially, the cost of the project was estimated to be around Rs 6,285 crore and was scheduled to be commissioned in December 2012.

The Subansiri Lower HE Project is the biggest hydro-electric project undertaken in India so far and is a run-of-river scheme on Subansiri.

Earlier in October, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju had said he is "traditionally" against construction of big dams in North East and favoured smaller ones with 300-500 MW capacities.

"Traditionally I am not for big hydro power projects in North East. I am not in favour of 4,000 MW or 5,000 MW projects. I am fine if one or two big projects come up in the region with consultations with the public," he had said.

Rijiju had also said NHPC has lost Rs 7,000 crore due to delay in completion of construction of the Subansiri dam.

PTI

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Updated Date: Dec 09, 2014 22:26:34 IST