GUWAHATI, Aug 13 - The Union Government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is for constructing all the proposed hydropower projects of NE India. This has come to light from a letter sent by the Union Government to the National Hydropower Corporation (NHPC) Ltd on June 13, 2019.
In paragraph 15 of this letter, the Union Government has stated that if the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project (LSHEP) could be implemented, it would pave the way for construction of all the proposed hydel projects of the NE region. Hence, the NHPC should expedite implementation of this project (LSHEP).
The letter sent by the Director, IAI Division of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (EFCC) to the CMD, NHPC Ltd maintained that several major hydroelectric projects like the Bhakra dam, Pong dam, Ranjit Sagar dam, etc., have been built in similar geological and seismotectonic environments of this Himalayan segment and are in successful operation for decades. So, the location of the LSHEP is considered acceptable, said the letter, referring to the three-member expert committee’s report on the issue.
It also claimed, based on the above report, that largest magnitude earthquakes in the LSHEP area are inferred to occur at a distance of beyond 15 to 20 km from the project site. It further asserted “…the seismic design of Lower Subansiri HEP dam can be considered safe with a high degree of confidence.”
Moreover, the alternative dam design proposal submitted by the applicant (in the LSHEP-related case) for the LSHEP has been examined in detail and it has not been found viable on techno-economic grounds, said the Director, IAI Division of the Union Ministry of EFCC.
“The downstream issues such as maintenance of continuous minimum flow for sustenance of flora and fauna, flood control and flood forecasting mechanism, sediment management, protection of Subansiri banks, provision of social security to the riparian population, dam break analysis, etc., have been taken care of as per the recommendations of various committees,” the letter said.
In paragraph 15, it said, “The Eastern Himalaya holds enormous hydropower potential, the harnessing of which can usher in rapid overall growth in the North East India, in particular. The commissioning of the Subansiri Lower HEP can, not only prove to be a boon for the people of the region, but also open the gates for accelerated development of water resources projects in the entire Brahmaputra basin.”
The contents of the letter are based on the observations/recommendations made by the three-member expert committee comprising Dr ID Gupta, Dr Prabhash Pandey and PM Scott. Constitution of this committee was challenged by former student leader Tularam Gogoi and social worker Abhijeet Sarma of the APW. The Eastern Zone (EZ) Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) rejected the objections of both the applicants on the constitution of the expert committee.