ITANAGAR, July 23 - Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu today announced one per cent of the State share of free electricity for local area development of the affected people of the 405 MW Ranganadi project at Yazali and adjoining villages.
People of the affected area had been in loggerheads with North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd (NEEPCO) under the banner of RHEP MoU Demand Committee alleging non-fulfillment of the rights of the locals. The Committee has been on agitation and closed down NEEPCO establishments at Yazali at least on two occasions.
Admitting that the grievances of the people are ‘genuine’, Khandu announced 1 per cent share for development of affected villages in a tripartite meeting he had summoned at his office premises today to resolve the impasse.
The meeting was attended by NEEPCO CMD AG West Kharkongor, RHEP MoU Demand Committee chairman Taba Tachi and secretary Tao Tana, Chief Secretary in-charge Satya Gopal, Power Commissioner Ashish Kundra and others.
The CM expressed surprise that a hydro project of mega magnitude was implemented and commissioned in the State without signing any MoU and is running for more than 15 years!
The only legal (and official) document available on its inception and existence is a ‘Minutes of the Meeting’ held under the then CM Gegong Apang and signed by then Chief Secretary Matin Dai and then CMD of NEEPCO SN Phukan on August 28, 1990, that allows for implementation of the project with certain conditions for development and welfare of the local people and affected villages.
“Whatever wrong we did has to be made right and therefore we have to immediately sign an MoU incorporating our State Hydro Policy of 2008 provisions,” Khandu declared.
He pointed out that in absence of a legal framework (MoU) the rights of the project affected people like local area development, free electricity, job reservations, relief & rehabilitation packages, etc., have been denied for long.
Khandu regretted that due to the ‘unsavoury’ beginning (RHEP is the first and only commissioned mega hydro power project of the State) people today are apprehensive of hydro power projects elsewhere in the State, which needs to be dealt sensitively and therefore emphasised on ‘correcting’ the ‘wrongs’ in this project to set a positive precedent.
He directed the NEEPCO authorities to compile a comprehensive report on the demands placed by the MoU Demand Committee including actions to be taken within a time frame and submit it to the State Government by August 5 next.
He informed, besides the 1 per cent share for local area development, the Cabinet that is scheduled to meet on August 12 will decide a way forward to redress all the grievances of the local people.
“After August 15, I along with NEEPCO authorities shall seek audience with the Union Power Minister and strongly push for a relook into its policy vis-à-vis RHEP for welfare of the affected local areas including change of project nomenclature from Ranganadi to Panyor and establishment of NEEPCO office within the State,” Khandu said.