5000 rally against mega dam

Tezpur, July 11: The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Takam Mising Porin Kebang (TMPK) put up a massive show of strength here today, with over 5,000 activists taking out a procession opposing construction of the mega dam as part of the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project at Gerukamukh.

Led by AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya, president Sankar Prasad Rai, secretary Tapan Gogoi and TMPK president Jahan Dolay and secretary Indra Kumar Sungkrung, the activists marched from Joymoti Field with placards registering their protest. They submitted two memoranda addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and chief minister Tarun Gogoi through Sonitpur deputy commissioner Tapan Chandra Sarma.

The memoranda, quoting reports on the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric project, said the North East Student Organisation (Neso) had initiated a series of agitations since 2001, warning that if the dam were to be constructed at Gerukamukh, the people of Assam would be badly hit.

In this connection, a committee was constituted with representatives of the state government, AASU and NHPC on December 8, 2006, which stated in its report that there would be a massive downstream impact if the project were to be implemented.

Arunachal Pradesh had proposed construction of 168 hydroelectric projects that would affect the downstream areas, for which a cumulative downstream impact study was necessary.

Subsequently, another expert committee, constituted with representatives of Gauhati University, Dibrugarh University and IIT Guwahati, submitted its preliminary report on February 10, 2009 recommending immediate stoppage of the project.

In its final report, the committee had stated that investigations had revealed gross anomalies regarding construction of a mega dam of such proportions at the selected site, as the area was geologically and seismically sensitive. The committee advised reduction in height of the dam or its relocation, as the Himalayan foothills were not geologically stable enough to support such a mega dam.

Subsequently, a state Assembly committee had opined that the safety and security of the state’s people could not be compromised at any cost.

The memorandum further said the organisations were not opposed to construction of power projects, as Assam needed more power generation to cope with the power crisis.

It suggested that the government construct micro dams instead of one major dam, which might affect people living in the downstream areas, particularly in Assam.

Three members of TMPK, on their way to Tezpur from Gohpur to take part in the rally, were seriously injured when their vehicle hit a stationary truck on NH52 at Behali in Sonitpur district.