Ajit Patowary GUWAHATI, July 25 - The Union Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has finally come up with the statement that it is not in favour of the report submitted by the Assam experts of the Project oversight Committee (PoC) on the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project (LSHEP) and accepted the report of the other experts Union Power Ministry had included in the PoC. The project has been agitating the minds of the people here because of the apprehensions created by the safety and environment-related issues connected with it, for the past several years.
The MoEFCC in its affidavit in the case (MA No 6 in OA No 346/2013/PB/9/EZ) before the Kolkata-based Eastern Zone (EZ) Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), said, “…this Ministry after examining both the reports of PoC, supports the report submitted by PoC (Government of India) on 26.02.2016…”
The MoEFCC submitted the above 40-page affidavit in matters raised by Tularam Gogoi, a former All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) leader and presently an advocate in the Gauhati High Court, before the EZ Bench of the NGT in the case. The Union Ministry of Environment, etc., has been named as the respondent number one in this case.
It perhaps needs mention here that the controversy over the safety and environment-related issues connected with the 2,000-MW mega LSHEP made the State Government, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, which is executing the project and All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) to arrive at a tripartite decision that experts should be engaged to study the controversial issues connected with the mega hydel project.
Accordingly, the State’s experts’ committee was formed in 2007 with experts from Gauhati University, Dibrugarh University and IIT Guwahati, which studied the project and raised several objections concerning the safety of the project’s structure and the environmental issues connected with the project. Later, the Union Government formed a two-member expert committee with former Central Water Commission (CWC) chairman CD Thatte as its head. This committee also reportedly raised a number of objections in this regard.
In December 2014, the Union Power Ministry formed an eight-member PoC, following a two-day consultation with the agitating groups, Government of Assam, State’s experts and experts from other parts of the country. It included all the four members of the State’s expert committee in the PoC.
This committee was asked to review all the contentious issues of the hydel project. The State’s experts differed on various issues with the Union Government’s experts in the committee and submitted a separate report in January 2016. The experts engaged by the Union Government submitted their report separately in February 2016.
The construction activities of the 2000-MW project have been kept suspended since December 2011 following the resistance offered by the agitators.