ITANAGAR, May 15 - Arunachal Pradesh Govt Spokesperson PD Sona while participating in a panel discussion on ‘Hydropower in Arunachal Pradesh’ has stated that the State Government will not construct any dam against the will of the community.
“The State Government is going to build dams but not against the will of the people. The government, being a welfare government, would not forcefully build dams and local sentiments will be taken care of,” Sona, also Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, said at the second edition of Face-to-Face symposium organised by Arunachal Press Club at State Banquet Hall here on Sunday.
However, he said that in case local communities agree upon the construction of projects, there should be no disturbance or intervention from outside. “It should be the local community who should decide whether to construct a dam or not… not by people from outside,” he said.
The Govt spokesperson further emphasised on holistic debates to bring solutions to the hydropower issue in the State. Stating that mass destruction of environment and infrastructure has to be taken care of before building dams, Sona, a close aide of CM Pema Khandu, said, the best possible technology have to be put into action while constructing dams.
He said that hydropower industry is the only industry that can make the State self-reliant without depending on New Delhi all the time, and added that the State has enough landmass which can hold reservoirs.
Informing that the State has 41 per cent of India’s hydropower potential, Hydro Power Development Corporation of Arunachal Pradesh DGM Mara Kocho said that “hydropower, besides being the cleanest energy, will generate revenue, create jobs and business opportunities, provide free electricity, act as flood moderator and bring development to the local area.”
He also said there are some constraints on relief and rehabilitation issues, earthquake vulnerability, ecological imbalance and man-made floods. He stressed for creating more awareness among the people and emphasised on small projects based on the run-of-the-river system.
NHPC Executive Director Ronel Kumar informed that NHPC has already invested Rs 900 crore on Subansiri Lower Project. Further informing that Arunachal Pradesh will get 240 MW and Assam 40 MW of free power, he said that the project is technically sound and has got the green signal from an expert committee but is still pending with the National Green Tribunal.
Arunachal Citizen’s Rights chairman Bamang Tago said that more dialogue and mechanism is required to solve conflicts between communities and hydropower developers. “The people are the ultimate authority. So the voice of the people has to be heard before implementing any project,” Tago said.
Rajiv Gandhi University professor Otem Padung has stated that each and every aspect relating to construction of dams has to be investigated independently without any bias, adding that more research needs to be done on the ‘bane and boon’ aspects of projects before implementing them. Padung also appealed to all to look upon the necessity of trans-boundary issues and respect opinions of the public before policy makers make any decisions.
Chief Engineer (Hydropower Development) Jummar Kamdak informed that the State is generating only 475.11 MW of power against the potential of 58,160 MW, which works out to 0.82 per cent.
He informed that if the 144 planned projects are implemented, the State would generate revenue at the rate of Rs 1.31 crore per MW resulting in annual revenue of Rs 7,668 crore and free power worth Rs 5816.74 crore.