GUWAHATI, Jan 5 - The three-member expert committee formed by the Union Government on the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project (LSHEP) is visiting the LSHEP of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) and the Pare Hydroelectric Power Project (Pare HEP) of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd from January 8 to 11 to gather information on the issues raised by the Assam members of the Project Oversight Committee (POC). The team members will also meet the officials concerned of the Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
The expert committee was constituted by the Union Government as per the October 16, 2017 order of the Kolkata-based Eastern Zone Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Original Application No 346/2013/PB/9/EZ for resolving various issues concerning the 2000-MW LSHEP.
It said in a resolution in its meeting held on December 12, 2018, that its members would also meet the applicants of the above NGT case – Abhijeet Sarma and Tularam Gogoi during their above visits. In the above resolution, the expert committee also suggested to have discussion with some experts, namely Dr Sujit Dasgupta, a retired DDG, Geological Survey of India (GSI) and Dr Kiron Mazumdar, a retired Director (SG) of the GSI, during its Assam visit.
It also felt it necessary to seek expert opinion of Dr Harish Bahuguna, Director, GSI on deputation to UJVNL, at the project sites of LSHEP and Pare HEP. The resolution also said of the desire of the expert committee to have a discussion with M Gopalakrishnan, a retired member of the Central Water Commission (CWC) who is also an expert in hydrology, at New Delhi.
The meeting attended by all members of the committee – Dr Prabhas Pande, Dr I D Gupta and Mr PM Scott – and its convenor Dr S Kerketta, also held a discussion with three Assam members of the POC set up by the Union Government on the LSHEP. POC’s Assam member Prof BP Duarah made a submission before the expert committee stating that the Assam members of the POC stand by the views they had expressed in their report to the POC.
Duarah suggested that the lessons learnt from the commissioned projects like the Ranganadi HEP and Kurichhu HEP should be looked into in matters of tackling siltation and flood. Besides, he argued that while for the Dibang HEP, a PGA value of 0.47g has been adopted, the same PGA value should be adopted for the LSHEP. Dibang HEP site is not very far from the LSHEP site, he said.
While the seismic zone factor has been taken into consideration for deciding the various parameters for the LSHEP dam, the magnitude of the probable earthquakes was not taken into consideration in this context, said Prof Duarah.
He said that the model for the project took into consideration a magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale for deriving the PGA value, despite the record of an 8.5 magnitude earthquake occurring in Shillong in 1897.
Prof Chandan Mahanta, another Assam member of the POC, pleaded for a composite simulation study on hydrology and sedimentation aspects as an academic exercise which would subsequently serve as a model for the development of hydropower in the NE region.
He also pleaded for a cumulative study of the proposed hydropower or water resources development projects in Arunachal Pradesh to assure the people of Assam that they are safe and their agro-based livelihood shall not be affected. Besides, he said international experts may be engaged to have an independent view and sort out the differences and there should be a transparency in the design modification such as increase in the base width of the dam etc.
But, the expert committee members observed that since the PGA value was site-specific and dependent upon various other parameters, it could, therefore, not be equal for all the projects.
Dr Kerketta informed the members of the expert committee and the POC that cumulative impact assessment study and carrying capacity study for the NE river basins have been completed and the reports of the same are uploaded on the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change website.