A mass protest mobilised by anti-dam protestors from Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity (KMSS), All Assam Students Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) on Thursday stopped a turbine component that was being transported to the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydro-power Project in Dhemaji district of Assam.
Thousands of people protesting against construction of mega dams in Assam-Arunachal areas came out on NH 52 to stop the turbine from being transported at Lakhimpur town in eastern Assam.
Under mounting pressure from the protestors, Lakhimpur Deputy Commissioner Anuwaruddin Choudhury ordered the turbine to be placed at the local playground in Lakhimpur town. Protestors threatened to intensify their agitation if the administration tried to move the turbine to the dam site.
KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi said, "The government should pay heed to the raging public protest against construction of mega dams or else the state will burn and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi will face the toughest days of his life."
The opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) too has joined the protest against building mega dams fearing catastrophic impact on lives and property in downstream areas. The AGP legislator from Lakhimpur condemned the police action against anti-dam protestors who were agitating in a peaceful manner.
Meanwhile, all the three AGO members of Parliament on Thursday met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in New Delhi to apprise him of the grave situation that is building in Assam due to construction of mega dams.
Meanwhile, chief minister Gogoi said that he was open to hold dialogue with anti-dam protestors to find a way out of the impasse. He said that construction work at NHPC dam site at Gerukamukh was continuing. "Everybody should understand that we need to generate electricity as much as possible to spur development in all sectors like industry, agriculture," he said much to the chagrin of anti-dam agitators.
Earlier, the anti-dam protestors had forced Dhubri district administration in western Assam to stop movement of a few more turbines meant for the NHPC project.
An expert group comprising experts from Indian Institute of Technology (Guwahati), Gauhati University and Dibrugarh has recommended against construction of a mega dam by the NHPC at Gerukamukh in view of geological and seismological sensitivity of the area.
The eight-member expert group was entrusted with the responsibility to carry out detail downstream impact study of the 2000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Power Project where construction of the main dam had been started by the NHPC without carrying out the downstream impact study triggering widespread mass protests.
The expert committee in its recommendations on the feasibility and the safety of the dam said, "The selected site for the mega dam of the present dimension was not appropriate in such a geologically and seismologically sensitive location. The seismic design parameter is not properly chosen for the project. Therefore, it is not recommended to construct the mega dam at the present site."
Further, the expert group has suggested not considering the geologically young and tectonically unstable Himalayan foothill areas to the south of the Main Boundary Thrust (MBT) for construction of any mega hydropower project.
It may be mentioned that not only the mega dam in question, but also all the 165 dam projects that are proposed to be constructed on rivers in Arunachal Pradesh hills are located in the seismically unstable Lesser Himalayan region. As a matter of fact entire North East which experienced two catastrophic earthquakes in 1897 and 1950 is considered seismically most active zone in the country.