Breaking News
Nagaland Post Logo
You are here:  Skip Navigation LinksHome » Show story
Dam project may continue: Ramesh
Published on 12 Aug. 2010 11:21 PM IST
Print  Text Size

With concerns being raised over the adverse effects of the Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project in Assam, Environment and Forests Minsiter Jairam Ramesh Thursday indicated that it may not be scrapped, though efforts will be made to minimise the downstream impact.
‘I cannot assure that the project will be stopped, but we will take all necessary measures to ensure there is no adverse effect of Subansiri on the downstream area,’ Ramesh said replying to a calling attention motion in the Rajya Sabha on the environmental impact of big dams in the northeastern region.
‘I can’t become the minister to stop all projects,’ Ramesh added.
The minister said that he will visit Assam Sep 10 and consult experts and the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), which is building the dam, to find ways to minimise the environmental damage.
NHPC is developing the 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Power project in Dhemaji district of Assam.
An eight-member expert committee from IIT-Guwahati, Gauhati University and Dibrugarh University has recommended a thorough review and redesign of the 115-metre high dam on the Subansiri river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra. Environment groups and the All Assam Students Union have demanded the immediate stoppage of work.
The expert committee submitted its report to NHPC in June.
Clarifying that the concept of downstream impact is a recent one, the minister said that for future projects, it will be ensured that these issues are also considered.
‘For all the projects which have not got clearance so far, we will not be insensitive as in past. River basin and downstream studies will be conducted and if a project has an adverse impact, it will not be given environmental clearance,’ Ramesh assured the House.
The minister said that dams were critical not only from the point of view of creating clean electricity but also from the strategic point of view.
‘The dams are also of strategic importance. If we don’t build dams on the Siang River (in Arunachal Pradesh), our claim from China will weaken,’ he said adding: ‘The dams in Bhutan are also of strategic importance so don’t say anything against our dams in Bhutan’.
Ramesh said that while rivers in Arunchal Pradesh had potential for producing 50,000 MW of power, harnessing the potential without damaging the environment was the challenge.
The minister added that an audit of already constructed dams is also being undertaken to ensure their viability.
India taking up dam issue with China
India is negotiating with the international community over China’s plans to construct a dam across the Brahmaputra in Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh Power Minister Jabron Gamlin said here on Wednesday.
“The Indian government is taking up the matter with the international community and also with the Chinese government to guarantee that the dam does not affect the river’s flow downstream (into India),” Gamlin said.
China plans to build a $167 million hydropower plant in Zangmu, 140 km southeast of Tibet’s capital Lhasa, besides diverting water to its parched northwest and northeast territories, which includes the Gobi desert.
The 2,906-km-long Brahmaputra is one of Asia’s longest rivers that traverses its first stretch of 1,625 km in Tibet, the next 918 km in India and the remaining 363 km in Bangladesh before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.
“China’s constructing a dam is a cause of concern for us, but we are not certain how big this dam is and what affect it would have on people living downstream,” Gamlim told IANS on the sidelines of the two-day North East Power Minister’s meet here.
China’s plans of building a dam over the Brahmaputra river and diverting water into its arid provinces has been opposed by regional governments in India’s northeast.
Experts say the Zangmu dam is a “run of the river” power generation project and is of no cause for alarm as it would not divert the river’s course.
Other experts say that if that project is commissioned it would almost certainly have devastating consequences on the lives of millions of people living in India and Bangladesh.
Agriculture forms the backbone of the economy in both Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with nearly 80 percent of the 27 million people in the two states eking out a living through farming, an agriculture scientist said.
But, with China not sharing much information about the dam, it’s not certain how big it is.
Apart from the dam, China is reportedly planning to divert 200 billion cubic metres of water to feed the Yellow River in an attempt to ease the acute water shortage in Shaanxi, Hebel, Beijing and Tianjin. The “South-to-North Water Diversion” project is currently being debated in Beijing for its technical feasibility, reports say.
India and China do not have a water-sharing agreement. Until recently, water sharing was never on the agenda of bilateral talks between the two countries.

Comments:(0) Login or Register to post your Comment
(Available for registered users only)
More News