Assam groups oppose Arunachal dam

Last Updated: Tue, Sep 13, 2011 13:30 hrs

Guwahati, Sep 13 (IANS) A mega dam being built in Arunachal Pradesh has become a major issue in Assam, with pressure groups Tuesday opposing the transport of turbines to the project site due to the dam's likely adverse ecological impact.

The row concerns the 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project, that began in 2003. Several environmental and pressure groups in Assam have demanded that its construction be scrapped, citing an adverse impact it was likely to have on ecology in the state's downstream areas.

'We shall oppose any move by the NHPC (National Hydroelectric Power Corporation) or the government to transport turbines to the project site and if required, are ready to shed blood,' said Akhil Gogoi, leader of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), a group taking the lead in opposing the dam.

The KMSS Tuesday staged a massive protest in the northern town of Tezpur after the state government allowed a Bangladeshi barge to offload seven turbines at a river port in western Assam.

'We are keeping a vigil and have temporarily withdrawn our protest after the authorities assured us that the turbines would not be transported to the project site,' said Shankar Prasad Rai, president of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU).

Assam's main opposition parties, including the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have also jumped onto the protest bandwagon.

'We are against the dam and we shall see to it that the project is shelved at any cost,' state BJP president Ranjit Dutta told IANS.

NHPC, the firm executing the Rs.9,000-crore project, said it would be commissioned by 2012 despite the protests.

The AGP too is maintaining a strident posture on the mega dam issue.

'At no cost shall we allow the project to function,' AGP leader and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said.

But the Arunachal Pradesh government is determined to continue with the construction of dams in the state.

'The power projects would change the economic face of the northeast as a whole and there should be no worries as the projects were being constructed with all prior environmental clearances,' Arunachal Pradesh MP Takam Sanjay told IANS.

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