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Assam: Medha Patkar leads protests against mega dams

By K Anurag
July 15, 2010 03:59 IST
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Narmada Bachao Movement leader Medha Patkar led a massive protest rally in Guwahati on Wednesday demanding shelving of dam projects in ecologically fragile and tectonically highly sensitive Northeastern region especially in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in order to safeguard interests of masses in the region.

Thousands of people from all corners of the region who were organized by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity (KMSS), hit the streets of Guwahati demanding immediate halt to the ongoing construction of the 2000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Power Project of the NHPC at Gerukamukh along Assam-Arunachal Pradesh boundary as well as shelving of all the proposed 168 mega dam projects in Arunachal Pradesh.

Leading the rally Patkar said, "Mega dams are symbols of corruption and atrocities on the masses. We will fight tirelessly against construction of mega dams in the North East and we will definitely win the battle." She said mega dams would be detrimental to the ecology of the region and pose danger to property and livelihood of the people
both in the upstream and downstream areas. After agitating and addressing the rally for hours under a scorching sun Patkar fainted and had to be rushed to hospital for treatment.

She called upon the government heed to the advice of the expert committee which was constituted by the NHPC under the pressure of people's movement against mega dams. The panel comprising experts from Indian Institute of Technology (Guwahati), Gauhati University and Dibrugarh University has recommended against construction of the NHPC mega dam at Gerukamukh in view of geological and seismological sensitivity of the area. The construction of the main dam had been started by the NHPC without carrying out the downstream impact study.

Earlier, Assam government with the help of its police force prevented large number of KMSS activists in different parts of the state from reaching the city to participate in the anti-dam rally. Still, a large number of people gathered to register protest against construction of mega dams under the leadership of Medha Patkar.
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