The Lower Subansiri Hydel Project shall be completed in 48 months as the NHPC has gone in full steam, amassing around 3500 workers and waiting for the arrival of another 3500 workers.
Executive Director of the NHPC’s Lower Subansiri Project informed that following favourable judgment of the National Green Tribunal(NGT) for the Dam construction, the work has resumed this October almost eight years of stalemate.
“We have reached 52% and shall love to proceed 1% every month and that way we will need 48 months and that means by end of 2024 it should be commissioned,” said Mr. Bhat.
The NHPC is now in the process of floating a new tender for choosing a contractor for the powerhouse as the previous one L&T left the NHPC project due to long suspension of work, said Mr Bhat.
The Lower Subansiri project, which will produce 2000 megawatts of power, is being developed as part of India’s hydropower program to generate a total of 50,000 megawatts.
The run-of-the-river project is expected to incur an expenditure of over Rs 24000 croroe. It will consist of a concrete gravity dam, which will be 116 meters high from the river bed level and 130 meters from the foundation with a length of 284 meters, said GM (Construction) Satyanarayan.
The construction of Lower Subansiri dam had started in 2005 and was due to be completed in 2010. However, the project was delayed due to protests over its environmental impact. Work came to a grinding halt 2011 when anti-dam activists set up roadblocks to prevent the shipment of machinery.
“As direct stakeholders I find that the dam is very disturbing for us and there is a threat for the downstream people and Court should have taken that into the account” said environmentalist Manoj Gogoi.
He also cast aspersion on the petition filed against the NHPC. “Today I am reasons to believe that the court cases actually helped the NHPC. As the court case had gone in their favour , we can not now raise or voice” said Mr Gogoi.
Protesters alleged that the dam would not be able to resist earthquakes in a zone that is highly prone to seismic activity. Leaders at the vanguard of the agitation had cited numerous instances of flooding in Assam whenever water was released from the Ranganadi dam in Arunachal Pradesh and Kurishu in Bhutan.
But that was allayed by Dam consultant Abu Ahmed. He clearly said that numerous committee had looked into it and favoured for the dam.
Meanwhile, the project became a subject of litigation in 2013, when Assam Public Works filed a suit in the National Green Tribunal challenging the recommendation of both the Joint Steering Committee and the Expert Group
Committee. Almost four years later, the court passed a judgment directing the government to constitute a committee of three experts to evaluate the project.
Months after the committee submitted a report approving the dam, the National Green Tribunal dismissed the petition to reconstitute the committee and ordered the resumption of construction.
As per the new design, the width of the dam has been increased from 171 meters to 271 meters in order to make it safer and an additional cut-off wall would be built downstream.
NHPC has clarified that all technical issues have been resolved as per the suggestions of an expert committee to prevent adverse downstream impact.