Protest staged to halt construction of a hydel-power project in Assam

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Gerukamukh (Assam), Dec.22 (ANI): Hundreds of people assembled in Gerukamukh region located in Assam's Dhemaji district to demand an immediate halt in the construction of 2,000-MW hydel power plant, fearing catastrophic impact of the big dam.

Local residents say that the Lower Subansiri Hydro-electric Project on the Assam-Arunachal border is a hasty step taken by the National Hydro-electric Power Corporation (NHPC) without proper studies on the project's downstream impact in the form of flood, soil erosion and loss of biodiversity.

The All Assam Students Union (AASU) has been spearheading a stir, demanding adequate safety and security measures for the people living downstream.

Locals and AASU officials say that a team of experts from Guwahati University (GU), Dibrugarh University (DU) and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, had given instructions to NHPC to stop the construction of the dam, and they should heed the experts' advice.

"We are demanding that they should show their respect to the expert committee, and they should stop construction of main dams. And he (NHPC official) has said that they are consulting the reports of the experts, and they'll consult with their high officials, and then they will take a decision. But we are very clear that the construction of the main dam must be stopped. And we'll see how they react, whether they respect the sentiments of the people or not, whether they stop the construction of the main dam or not. If they fail to respect the sentiments of the people, if they fail to keep their commitment, we will start a vigorous movement because it is the question of our own existence," said Sammujal Bhattacharya, AASU advisor.

AASU officials say that NHPC had agreed on a reassessment of the possible adverse impact of the dam, especially on the people.

The NHPC had also agreed to suspend the construction until the expert committee gave their decision, but locals say that despite that, the NHPC was secretly carrying on with the construction works, which invited the ire of the public. (ANI)

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