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Dam at Subansiri: A political issue
The masses should be asked as to what they want, rather than government or Opposition outing ideas in their minds. Every development has pros and cons, evaluation of these beforehand is what is essential.
OPPOSITION AGAINST the construction of mega dam at Subansiri in Arunachal Pradesh got its momentum following forthcoming Assembly Elections in the state.
It was boosted by expert committee report on mega dam and its recommendations to stop construction of the dam. In the meantime, the leader of farmers, Akhil Gogoi received an award from a leading national news channel, for his unprecedented achievements.

He leads the movement against construction of mega dam even engaging protagonist with the likes of Medha Patkar. It is pertinent to mention here that such opposition always attracts enormous public support and has been proved time and again in different parts across India. Many political and non-political parties joined and echoed solidarity alongside Akhil Gogoi as he has already garnered public support. Political parties are always in search of opportunities to grab power.

In view of relentless opposition to construction of the dam, the government has slowed down the project work and even transmission works associated with it have also been halted.

The whole state is gearing up for forthcoming assembly polls and it seems that the 10-year old government is fighting anti-incumbency factor to a great extent.

The current assembly session has witnessed the worst scenario. The 10-hour long debate on the mega dam issue was marked by noisy scenes and unruly behaviour, especially by section of the ruling and opposition party members. But, it failed to produce any desired result.

While the Opposition insisted on a clarification from the state government on whether the latter would stop the construction till the submission of the report by the proposed foreign expert committee and removal of the apprehensions expressed by various quarters about the big dam at lower Subansiri, the ruling party however, sought to avoid giving a clear answer leading to uproarious scenes in the House.

The Opposition staged a walkout from the Assembly after a noisy discussion on the controversial issue. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi asserted that big dams are required for the overall development of the state.

He added that without big dams chronic problems of the state like floods, erosions can’t be combated. There are risks in maneuvering such a project having impacts in down streams and there are remedies also. The main Opposition party president said they allowed construction of big dams because they didn’t know implications and bad effects. Now, they are opposing big dam construction because they have seen the adverse effects of mega dams.

Undoubtedly, mega dam is required for overall development of the state. This statement may put us and the like minded people in minority, the fact remains that Assamese people fought for it for decades. People opposing it were proud of the water resources of the state and neighbouring states.

The state electricity scenario is worst and every year in summer there are demonstrations condemning power ministry, burning effigies and so on. The state largely depends upon Meghalaya for electricity and has to pay hefty revenue for the same. The basis of the Opposition is expert committee report.

These scholars have undoubtedly tremendous knowledge to share. They are all respected professors and may rightly have reservations. The reports are based on many assumptions and previous accumulated data. There are always discrepancies of assumptions and data collections. Why people opposing are not listening to is difficult to digest.

These are professors and might lack practical field experience. Most of the other projects of the likes of bridges over Brahmaputra River, water treatment project and four lane highway works are designed by consultants from outside. Our indigenous experts have failed to even construct a full proof embankment to control flood, failed to control erosion and other chronic problems faced by people of Assam every year.

NHPC is not private entity as expressed by many leaders and rather calling it a ‘company’. It is one of ‘Navratna's' of Government of India. I do not think it has vested interests and is carrying out works as per the government directives.

The same Asom Gana Parishad government in the state who advocated construction of big dam is now opposing it. People of state have to decide whether Assam is part of India or not. If the answer is affirmative, then they should believe in the Constitution, the Central government and people of other states as well.

The state needs mega dam to control floods, erosions and enormous need of electricity for industrial development as well as society as a whole. Of course, anomalous design and comprehensive analyses of downstream affects must be addressed. People have to decide logically and should not be made emotional.

Nobody should try and put their ideas, understandings into the minds of common man. Let them decide themselves. The government should also engage more and more experts to study all pros and cons of downstream affects of the dam.


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