Anger Brewing Against NGT

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Dozens of ethnic and non-political organisations in the state fear that the National Green Tribunal (NGT)’s latest decision could result in the devastation of the people living in Subansiri riverbank side.

The work for the Lower Subansiri project had been halted for last several years following agitation raised against the dam by several organisations including the Assam Public Works (APW), All Assam Students Union (AASU), Krishak Mukti sangram Samiti (KMSS), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and various non-political groups.

The Tribunal on Wednesday dismissed the petition of Assam Public Works (APW) seeking reconstitution of the expert committee to look into the safety aspects of the 2000-MW Lower Subansiri Dam being built by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC).

Interestingly, the NGT in its last hearing last week had reportedly asked the government to appoint a few independent members in the expert committee. The expert committee was set up by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. The petitioners in the case were Abhijeet Sharma and Tularam Gogoi.

“This is totally surprising. We will move the Supreme Court in the next week,” said APW president Abhijeet Sharma.

“This could lead to huge damage and loss of crops, cattle, housing structures, and farmland. Additionally, it will erode away public infrastructure and communication systems. The unpredictable natural behavior of the river will not only affect the rural floodplain population but also the urban growth centers and infrastructures”: said Environmentalist Keshab Chandra Satradhara.

The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti on Thursday reiterated its demand to scrap the stalled 2,000MW Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border. “We strongly feel that construction of the dam must not be allowed under any circumstances”: said KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi.

The anti-dam movement spearheaded by the non-political groups in the state and witnessed massive support from across the state. People still remember the massive rally of over 20,000 people storming the streets of Guwahati with the slogan, “We don’t need big dams”.

Then in opposition, the BJP had also positioned against the construction of the dams. In its run-up to the Assam state election in 2016 too, the BJP’s campaign had the anti-big dam agenda. But right after coming to power in Assam it has made a U-turn on the issue and is currently advocating the resumption of construction of the dams.

Agitation by different organisations, including the KMSS, All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and Takam Mising Kebang Porin, has stalled the project since December 2011.

The big dams were opposed by the people of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh due to the possible environmental accidents that can devastate the flood and quake-prone state.

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