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Expert panel against dam at Lower Subansiri
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, March 11 - The four-member expert panel of Assam has in its final report on the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project “refused” to give its consent for construction of the 2,000MW dam in its present design and form.

Work on the project had been kept in abeyance following the constitution of an expert panel comprising the four experts of Assam, besides another group of experts recommended by the Government of India in December 2014. The panels, which meet 11 times and had made many visits to the site, decided to submit their reports separately in view of their difference of opinion.

Briefing media-persons on the expert (from Assam) committee’s findings today, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) adviser Akhil Gogoi said that the report exposed the serious lapses and the casual approach of the engineers and experts of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) which wanted to get the project cleared in a hurry, undermining the serious concerns of the downstream populace of Assam.

The KMSS also announced that it would now launch a stir for ‘‘demolishing’’ the dam, as it has been established that “it is no more than a water-bomb” hanging over the people of Assam.

“The earlier expert committee opined that on counts of feasibility and safety, the present location of the site, as also the dam height and design, were not suitable, as the location was extremely vulnerable geologically and seismically. Endorsing this stand, the four-member expert panel from Assam has exposed how the NHPC was hoodwinking the people and also violating the recommendations and revisions made by the earlier expert group and the technical expert committee constituted by the Government of India,” Gogoi said.

“The highest PGA value of 0.50 G vis-à-vis design of Seismic Response Spectra was never used by the NHPC, and therefore, the analysis is misleading as well as laughable,” Gogoi said.

The report, Gogoi said, further revealed how the Union Power Ministry undermined the serious issues concerning seismic volatility of the location, besides dishonouring the unanimous decision of the eight-member expert panel to have two international experts.

“The four experts of Assam have unanimously held that a resolution of the issue of the feasibility of the dam on a seismic zone would not be conclusive without the involvement of impartial global experts.

The expert panel also reiterated its stand concerning the need for redesigning the dam, besides reducing its height and production capacity. In its concluding remarks, the panel said that it would not be advisable to proceed with the project without addressing the apprehensions stemming from seismic and geological vulnerability of the dam site and without a resolution of the environmental and social impacts on the downstream areas and populace.

“It is now clear that the Lower Subansiri project is not feasible in its present site or design. The expert committee has further said that if the project is executed without effecting changes in its design, a universal and comprehensive insurance scheme must be provided for all the people in upstream and downstream areas that are likely to be affected by both foreseeable and unforeseen adverse effects,” Gogoi said.

The four experts of Assam were Dr Jatin Kalita, Dr Bhagawat Pran Duarah, Dr Chandan Mahanta and Dr SP Biswas, while the other four were Dr ML Sharma, Dr VK Sharma, SK Siwal and Kapil Tripathi.

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