PUDR strongly condemns the police action on the peaceful anti-dam protestors in Lakhimpur district of Assam on 11 May 2012. These protestors, who were sitting in the camp, are peacefully demonstrating against the upcoming big dam on river Subansiri, which is considered as the life line for the people living in the downstream areas of upper Assam. The protestors had put a blockade camp to obstruct the transportation of the construction materials to the dam site. The blockade has been organised jointly by more than 9 organisations since November 2011.
The concern of PUDR is compounded by the fact that its team members recently visited Lakhimpur blockade site and met the agitating people, mostly villagers of the nearby areas, as part of a fact finding organised by Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations to look in to the issue of upcoming of more than 100 dams in Arunachal Pradesh. Till the end April 2012, reportedly 168 MoUs/ MoAs have been signed by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh. The 2000 MW lower Subansiri project is one among them and is being constructed for NHPC by Larsen and Toubro and Soma. When fully constructed, this dam will have a height of 115 metres. It is alleged that the construction of this dam is likely to submerge the 70 km upstream and affect the lives and livelihood of over 700 families, majority of them belong to the tribal communities. In the downstream area, which largely falls in Assam, the dam is likely to destroy the livelihood of 39 lakh fisher folk and submerge about 3436 ha of forest land including wildlife habitat. The dam will also destroy the agriculture activities in the large part of Assam with the increase of deposit of sand over presently cultivable land. The fear of people, residing in this part of the state, is compounded by the fact as they have has still not forgotten the destruction caused by man-made flood created by 405 MW Ranganadi dam on 14th June 2008.
We also condemn this act because the issue of large number of upcoming dams in this area has not been debated fully and there is not any concrete study on likely impact on the lives and livelihood of the people. In fact many of the MOUs have been signed without the Environment Impact Assessment, which is mandatory before signing any contract. During his recent visit to Assam, Prime Minister Manmohan had made a statement that the concerns of the people will be taken in to account through a cumulative impact study of the areas which are likely to be affected by all the upcoming dams.
PUDR strongly condemns the act of Assam Government which is trying to forcefully suppress these legitimate concerns of the agitating people and getting these unviable projects executed though force. Therefore, PUDR demands that all the construction activities should be suspended until the cumulative impact study, as promised by Prime Minister, is successfully completed in the entire north east by engaging the local people whose livelihood will be affected by these dams.
Paramjeet Singh and Preeti Chauhan