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WAPCOS completes cumulative impact studies for dams in Subansiri and Siang sub-basins
Activist Akhil Gogoi went on an indefinite hunger-strike starting Sunday in Guwahati,. He was demanding the release of 27 anti-dam protesters, arrested from Ghaghar Village in Lakhimpur district on May 11. They were planning to stop construction machinery from being transported to National Hydroelectric Power Corporation's Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project site near the Assam and Arunachal Pradesh border, say officials. Gogoi accused the state police and the central reserve police of “unleashing inhuman atrocities on our peaceful and democratic protesters”.
According to Lakhimpur administration, Gogoi's Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), a peasants' body, and several other organisations have been preventing NHPC from carrying construction materials to the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power project site in the district since December 26, last year (see 'Subansiri dam protests: blockade of Arunachal Pradesh continues').
KMSS accused the Assam government of trying to resume supply of construction materials for the dam from Saturday onwards, though feasibility study is yet to be completed. The dam is 40 per cent complete. “They deployed over 300 police personnel to arrest our activists while, as per our information, supply of construction materials was to be resumed much later, from Saturday. The move to arrest peaceful protesters is undemocratic,” added Gogoi.
Committee to address people's concerns
In a related development, Union minister of state for power, K C Venugopal, in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, stated that cumulative impact assessment of the proposed dam has been completed by the government's Water Resources and Power Consultancy (WAPCOS). The concerns of local people on the safety of the dam has been referred to the two-member technical experts committee. In addition, a steering committee has been constituted by NHPC to address the concerns of the downstream impact of the project and to suggest feasible and practical remedial measures.
These measures will refer to the expert group’s recommendations on downstream impact of Subansiri Lower Dam along with issues related to flood, bank erosion and sediment control, said Venugopal. Also, as recommended by inter-ministerial group headed by secretary of water resources, a cumulative environmental impact assessment study of Lohit sub-basin has recently been completed by WAPCOS and studies for Subansiri and Siang sub-basins have been commissioned by the Central Water Commission, he added.
Meanwhile, anti dam activists from Arunachal Pradesh as well as tribal organisations are supporting the fast. “We are supporting Gogoi's fast. Our community is most threatened by the displacement to be caused due to construction of the dam,” added Ranjan Pegu of Takam Mising Porin Kebang, the Mising students' union.