Anti-dam organisations in Assam have slammed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for virtually paving the way for a mega dam that was left incomplete in 2011.
The NGT had earlier this week dismissed petitions seeking reconstitution of a six-member expert committee that they claimed was biased towards environment-threatening big dams.
Former All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) leader Tularam Gogoi, and president of NGO Assam Public Works Aabhijit Sarma had filed the petitions.
Anti-dam groups said that the dismissal of the pleas was a move by the Centre to resume work on the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydropower Project (LSHP) at Gerukamukh on the Arunachal Pradesh-Assam border.
The National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) had started work on the project in 2009 but had to stop after a series of protests by local organisations.
The NHPC officials said they have been losing ₹10 crore daily since 2011 because of non-completion of the project that was more than 65% through.
The work remained stalled as protests have not allowed transportation of turbines and other construction materials to the site in north-eastern Assam.
Legality of committee
“The Centre had formed a six-member panel to study the project and give a report. Three of the members, who are from Assam, dissuaded construction in an earthquake-prone area. The three other members endorsed the project. Following this, the Centre formed another panel with members from the government. This committee’s legality was thus challenged,” said Akhil Gogoi, leader of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti that has been opposed to the dam.
“The people of Assam will not accept the NGT order. How can a committee with questionable legality submit a report, based on which an expert appraisal panel approve environment clearance,” he asked.
The AASU said the Centre should first ensure the safety and security of the people living downstream of the dam before giving its nod.