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Wed, 24 Jul 2019

Northeast Today

Arunachal CM Seeks Centre’s Intervention in Subansiri Project

Arunachal CM Seeks Centre’s Intervention in Subansiri Project
September 12
14:55 2016

Arunachal Pradesh Chief minister Pema Khandu has sought the intervention of Union minister of state for power (independent charge), Piyush Goyal, in the vexed issue of delayed financial compensation for families affected by the Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project.

Reportedly, the NHPC has not addressed the issue of compensation for land in West Siang district for 1200 hectares and has not compensated the affected families yet. The compensation demand committee has been stepping up its efforts to get the NHPC to relent and met Union minister of state for home affairs, Kiren Rijiju, and have also submitted a memorandum to the PMO. Now, the chief minister too appears to have thrown his weight behind the demand.

Khandu wrote to Goyal on September 5 detailing the intricacies of the issue. He said that the NHPC had released Rs 84,11,97,750 for compensation to be awarded to affected families on the basis of a loss assessment report made in 2008. However, Khandu said that the report did not adhere to the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and Arunachal Pradesh R&R Policy, 2008.

The report “did not take into consideration many items of loss”, Khandu wrote and that a reassessment was conducted. The subsequent report published in 2012 concluded the compensation amount to be Rs 503,40,08,141. A third additional report from 2013 recommended compensation of Rs 20,42,19,370. Both the reports were later submitted to the NHPC in 2013 “with a request for payment of compensation in accordance with the agreement signed between the NHPC and villagers” in 2001 at Gerukamukh.

Seeking the union minister’s intervention, Khandu requested that Goyal direct the NHPC authorities to resolve the compensation issue at the earliest. The dam, built on the border of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, would submerge 47 km of the Subansiri River – over 3400 ha of forest land – in Arunachal Pradesh, with relatively little human displacement upstream. However, downstream Assam with its huge population of river-dependent communities was not considered in negotiations over rehabilitation and benefit-sharing, as Indian law includes no mechanism to account for downstream impacts of large dams.

Work on the 2000 mega watt project has been stalled since December 2011 due to concerns raised by activists and environmentalists over its downstream impact in Assam. Notably, the Akhil Gogoi-led Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti has been most vocal and active in their protest but researchers and experts have also flagged key issues.

Apart from dramatic daily flow fluctuations, some experts say that the sandstone rock prevalent in the dam site forms a weak foundation for such a large structure, and despite the region being highly prone to earthquakes, NHPC had changed the dam’s design parameters from earlier projections – in an effort to reduce costs but at the expense of dam safety.

-The Dawnlit Post

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