Govt for rational decision: Pradyut
GUWAHATI, Nov 11 – Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi today said that people’s apprehensions on the mega dam issue would be allayed by putting in place a redressal mechanism to deal with the adverse impacts of these projects. He was taking part in the debate on the mega-dam issue in the State Assembly.
He further said that the State Government is for a rational decision on the issue rather than an emotional outburst. “We have taken seriously the recommendations of the expert group comprising experts from the IIT, Guwahati, Gauhati University and Dibrugarh University. But at the same time we are for opinions of more experts on the issue,” he said.
The Government would never compromise on the structural safety of the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project. Dams will help check siltation and in controlling flood. “Dams are in the interest of Assam,” he said, asserting that no dam lobby had ever approached the Assam Government.
He alleged that an anti-dam propaganda was creating a fear psychosis among the people by projecting the dams as water bombs potential enough to destroy the whole of Assam, which is not the case.
“Safe dams are possible and science and technology have made it possible to tackle the adverse impacts of the dams and we are for a comprehensive and open review of all the proposed dam projects,” he said, asserting that the State Government has been insisting on these points for years. The State Government’s stand on dam is guided by not just by commercial considerations but by people’s apprehensions.
Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is also a spokesman of the State Government, said that the ongoing debate over the mega-dam hydel power projects is hijacked by the left anarchists. If the country cannot complete its proposed river dam projects over the Brahmaputra and its tributaries by 2020, it would not be able to thwart the Chinese bid to divert the Brahmaputra to the Yellow river to irrigate its two dry provinces, he claimed.
He claimed that since 1955, it is the national consensus of the Assamese people to dam the rivers. This aspiration of the people should not be allowed to be renounced for the sake of mustering some votes, he said.
Chandra Mohan Patowary (AGP) said that Prafulla Mahanta as the Chief Minister had asked the Central Government to implement the Subansiri Multi-purpose Project as conceived by the Brahmaputra Board, with the components of flood control, irrigation and power generation. But, later, this project was converted into a hydel power one.
If development is attained at the cost of the land, people and environment etc, there are many things to be opposed. If the project benefits only the big capital, the AGP would be bound to take recourse to agitation, he said.
Patowary said that the AGP has been opposing the mega-dam projects after the daunting experiences with the Ranganadi, Kurishu and Kopili Hydel Power Projects.
Bhuban Pegu (Independent) said that the Government of Assam has adopted a policy for small hydel power projects and 90 small projects have been identified. It has projected that in 2020, the State will require 2573 MW of power, while it has estimated its power generation capacity, including that of the NTPC’s Bongaigaon Thermal power unit, to go up to 3637.5 MW by then.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had also said in his budget speech presenting the 2009-10 budget that the State would be power surplus ‘within the next three years.’ Under such a situation, Assam does not need the power generated in Arunachal Pradesh, said Pegu.
Earlier, initiating the debate on the issue, Keshav Mahanta (AGP) said that contrary to the demand of the AGP, the Subansiri Project was converted into a hydel power project. If the House accepts the reports of both the eight-member expert group and the House Committee on the issue, there is not much to discuss.
The House Committee suggested that construction of the LSHEP should be kept in abeyance, while the expert group suggested that no construction should be done at the present site of the LSHEP dam, Mahanta said.
Binanda Saikia (Congress), Ranjit Dutta (BJP), Sirajuddin Ajmal (AIUDF), Moneswar Brahma and Kamal Singh Narzary (both BPF), Uddhav Barman (CPI-M) also took part in the debate, among others. Leader of the Opposition Prafulla Kumar Mahanta clarified that he had written letters to the Union Government as the Chief Minister of Assam, for implementation of the multi-purpose river projects only. The present stand of his party is based on the experience with the Ranganadi etc projects, he said.
Source: The Assam Tribune