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Assam protests ‘reckless’ construction of dams in Arunachal

Shillong, Aug 12 (IANS) Voicing its concern over the ‘reckless’ construction of mega dams in Arunachal Pradesh, the Assam government Thursday demanded that the inter-ministerial group studying the water resources of the region determine if such dams are safe in what is a highly seismic zone.

‘A proper study must be conducted to find out whether the construction of such mega dams are safe in a region positioned in a high seismic zone with a fragile geological condition,’ Assam Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi said at the northeast power ministers’ meet here.

‘What we are worried about is the prevalence of a high seismic zone and fragile geological condition in the areas bordering Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, where the epicenters of some of the biggest earthquakes of the last century were found to be located,’ he added.

The Central Electricity Authority has estimated the potential from 89 big hydroelectric projects in Arunachal Pradesh at 49,126 MW, while smaller ones are expected to generate another 1,600 MW.

Bordoloi said the ministerial group set up by the Prime Minister’s Office to study the water resources of the region must also include geological studies to find out whether large man-made river dams with their present structural designs were safe for the region.

‘Before that, Arunachal Pradesh must desist from allowing reckless construction of big dams on the (Brahmaputra) river by various promoters. Moreover, the riparian rights of Assam as a downstream state must be protected,’ Bordoloi said.

‘The need of the hour is to harmoniously blend all the developmental, strategic and environmental issues to promote inclusive and participative development,’ he added.

On the other hand, Arunachal Pradesh Power Minster Jarbon Gamlin urged National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) to expedite work on the Lower Subansiri and Kameng projects as these were much behind schedule.

‘The delay in commissioning of these projects will not only result in cost overruns but also delays in the socio-economic benefits from the projects,’ he said during the meeting.

Earlier, Environment and Forests Minsiter Jairam Ramesh assured that dam sizes would be scaled down to minimise the downstream impact.

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