Anti-dam stir gains momentum in Assam



The anti-dam stir in Assam gained momentum Wednesday with activists blocking highways and burning effigies of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi after a fresh move was made to carry equipment to a site which, activists say, would impact downstream areas.

The protests were spurred following National Hydroelectric Power Corporation's (NHPC) move to carry accessories to Lower Subansiri Hydro Power Project at Gerukamukh.

Activists from All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) -- a group opposed to mega dam -- blocked highways and held agitations in Dhubri, Bongaigaon, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts.

The two organisations also burnt effigies of Gogoi in all four districts and said that more agitations would follow.

Opposition parties in Assam -- the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- also seem to be chalking out strategies to oppose the NHPC's move ahead of the forthcoming session of the assembly scheduled Dec 1.

AGP publicity secretary Manoj Saikia accused Gogoi of hatching a conspiracy to secretly carry the equipment to the Lower Subansiri Hydro Power Project.

"The Assam government and the central government had assured that construction work of the 2,000 MW hydro power project would be stopped till various organisations opposing the construction come to a consensus," Saikia said.

The government had become a party to the mega dam lobby despite knowing that these dams might cause destruction in downstream areas, Saikia said.

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.

According to reports, two barges -- M.V. Jal Taranga and M.V. Tidal Waves -- carrying turbines for the project have reached Dhubri.

The two barges left Kolkata dock Nov 7 and are bound for Pandu Port in Guwahati for the accessories' onward transportation to Gerukamukh. - IANS