Assam appoints group of ministers to talk to agitating people
Protests in different parts of Assam against the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh entered its sixth day on Wednesday even as the Assam power minister said a group of ministers would be meeting the agitators on January 5 for talks. The protesters have blocked national highway-52 near North Lakhimpur on the Assam-Arunachal border indefinitely.
Activist Akhil Gogoi led-Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), the Takam Mising Porin Kebang (TMPK), the Mising Students Union and 55 other organisations of Assam are taking part in the protests.
Assam power minister, Pradyut Bordoloi told Down To Earth that the group of ministers would meet the leaders of these organisations and look into the demands of people protesting against the construction of the dam the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, which activists say will displace hundreds of thousands of people.
“Roughly 40 per cent of the works are complete, and Rs 5,200 crore has been spent, and the foundation of the dam was being laid when we started the blockade on December 16,” said Gogoi.
Gogoi had called for the stir, after picketers in various parts of Assam stopped vehicles taking construction equipment to bordering Gerugamukh where the dam is under construction. The agitation against the 2,000 MW hydel project, was called off when ministers expressed reservations on holding talks while the agitation was on.
However, when the stir was called off on December 27, the government showed little interest in holding talks. All 57 organisations resumed their stir on December 30.
The ongoing economic blockade against Arunachal Pradesh includes blocking construction material for the dam. “Some officials told us that talks are slated for January 5, but we are yet to get a formal invitation from the government of Assam. We have not called off the stir,” said Ranoj Pegu of TMPK.
According to Pegu, hundreds of thousands of people belonging to the Mising community, a Scheduled Tribe comprising fisher people and farmers would be displaced if the dam is constructed in the upper reaches of the Subansiri, a tributary of the Brahmaputra river.
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