Tussle over Subansiri projects

Plan irks green activists
Guwahati, Feb 10 : Environmentalists are up in arms over the decision of the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife, which gave its approval to consider cases of building of dams in the upper reaches of Subansiri.
A meeting of the committee held recently in Delhi has decided that any proposal of constructing dams in the upper stream of the river would now be considered independently on its merit.
Interestingly, the Supreme Court in 2004 on the granting of clearance to the Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project had put a condition that no dam will be built on the upstream of lower Subansiri.
The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), executing body of the Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project, is interested in building the Middle Subansiri and Upper Subansiri projects — two mega projects — in the upstream areas and is lobbying hard for it. 
The corporation has already given in writing that the building hydroelectric projects were viable and economically independent of other projects in the upstream of Subansiri.
However, a member of the committee from Assam, Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, has written to the committee’s chairman, S. Reghupathy, saying it is clearly not adequate to only assess each project “independently” in terms of its impacts, as these projects clearly have cumulative impacts, including in the downstream areas in Assam.
According to the power corporation’s own admission, the flow downstream of the Lower Subansiri project in Assam will be different with and without the upstream projects (Middle Subansiri and Upper Subansiri).
“In such a scenario, how can projects be looked at independently and that too without consulting the state of Assam in which the flow will be impacted?” he asked. 
He said in the light of this, it was crucial that the committee conducts an independent and comprehensive review of the compliance of all the conditions imposed on the project before these recommendations are forwarded to the Supreme Court. 
“The ministry of environment and forests has engineered a dilution of conditions imposed on the Lower Subansiri project by the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife in May 2003. These conditions were also reiterated by the Supreme Court in April 2004. This dilution is a mockery of all logical environmental governance practices. As soon as the work was well under way, the stringent conditions were dropped five years later. The country is compromising its ecological security with this kind of decision-making,” Neeraj Vagholikar, member of Kalpavriksh, who has been working on issues related to dams in the Northeast said.