Subansiri Project dispute to be resolved through negotiations

New Delhi: Union power ministry will soon convene a meeting of all concerned stakeholders in Assam’s Subansiri hydro power project, an official statement said Saturday.

Minister of State for Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, Youth Affairs and Sports Sarbananda Sonowal met Power Minister Piyush Goyal Saturday and apprised him of the concern of the people of Assam relating to the Subansiri hydroelectric project, work on which has been stalled due to local opposition.

During their discussion, Goyal told Sonowal, who is also president of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Assam unit, “that a meeting of various stakeholders will be called shortly to discuss their concerns along with experts in this field,” an official statement said.

The power minister also said no construction will be undertaken till the matter is sorted out, it added.

The total cost of NHPC’s Subansiri project has gone up by about Rs.1,200 crore owing to forced suspension of work since December 2011 following protests by a section of locals who are apprehensive about safety and the project’s downstream impact.

The state-run generator has already spent about Rs.6,600 crore, according to a status report prepared by the company.

Once commissioned, Subansiri will be the country’s biggest hydroelectric project. The estimated annual energy generation from the project is 7,421 million units.

The construction of the Lower Subansiri power project was suspended for several months due to opposition by the KMSS and other pressure groups on the ground that the project would have an adverse downstream impact on lives and environment.

Owing to protest in Assam, the central government had also agreed to allocate another 300 MW power to Assam in addition to the already allocated 208 MW of paid and 25 MW of free power.

Last year, the issue of the Lower Subansiri project was examined in detail and as a follow up of recommendations of the Tahtte Committee, an independent Dam Design Review Panel (DDRP) was set up.

The DDRP has examined the issues involved – foundation competency, seismic aspect, dam design review and existing ground conditions and has proposed some additional safety measures, it said.

These have been accepted and the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) has been asked to take the project forward on the lines suggested by the DDRP.

Assam CM Tarun Gogoi said, “The project has already been delayed. We are going to talk to the organizations like the All Assam Students’ Union (Aasu) and the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), who had been opposing the construction work of the project on various grounds so that the work of the project resumes at the earliest,”.

Gogoi said that the power situation in Assam is going to improve in the near future as the state government had already asked the central government for about 240 MW of power from the Palatana power project in Tripura.

“Immediately we are going to get 90 MW of power from Palatana project but from next year we are going to receive 240 MW of power,” he said.

“We are also going to get some power from the thermal power project in Bongaigaon by next year and efforts are also on through the central government to buy power from Bhutan,” he said.