Arunachal lawmakers want power projects to stay

Itanagar, Aug 13 (IANS) Congress lawmakers from India’s northeastern state of Arunchal Pradesh have locked horns with New Delhi over construction of mega dams to generate energy, saying any move by the central government to scuttle the projects would not be tolerated.

‘Those people who oppose the construction of dams to generate electricity are anti-national,’ Takam Sanjay, firebrand Congress party member in the Lok Sabha, told IANS.

Sanjay was reacting to statements in the media attributed to Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh that ongoing hydro power projects in Arunachal Pradesh by constructing mega dams could be stopped if they pose environmental risks.

Several delegations from Assam had called on Ramesh in New Delhi Tuesday to put on hold several big dams under construction in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Arunachal Pradesh government has signed MoUs with several private firms for 10 major hydropower projects to generate an estimated 30,000 MW power in 10 years’ time.

‘The energy generated from Arunachal Pradesh would not only cater to the whole of India, but we can also sell power to adjoining countries as well. This would change the economic face of the whole of the northeast,’ Sanjay said.

‘Arunachal Pradesh could earn about Rs.70 billion as revenue by generating hydropower once the ongoing projects become functional,’ Arunachal Pradesh Power Minister Jarbom Gamlin said.

The state, bordering Myanmar and the Tibet region, has the potential to generate an estimated 50,000 MW of hydropower.

‘The power policy of the state is in conformity with the central government and all precautions were taken to ensure that there are no environmental issues due to the power projects,’ Sanjay said.

Among the major projects currently being executed in the state are the Ranganadi Project, the Subansari Project and the Taloh Power Project.

But pressure groups in Assam are up in arms against big dams.

‘Big dams would lead to catastrophic environmental hazards in downstream areas in Assam. We shall launch a mass movement if the projects are allowed to continue,’ said Samujjal Bhattacharyya, advisor of the All Assam Students’ Union.

‘Those who are opposing the move are doing so with some vested interests. There are no issues as experts have cleared the proposals,’ the Arunachal Pradesh MP said.

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