Content courtesy: National Alliance for People's Movements
On the 26 December, 2011, at 2:15 am, Assam Police in collusion with other security forces swooped down on the protesters at Ranganadi who have been blockading the Highway since December 16 and thwarting state’s attempt to carry turbines and dam materials to project site of Lower Subansiri Dam. Nearly 200 people have been arrested and earlier also security forces have been harassing the protestors. In past too, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti fighting against the big dams on Brahmaputra have faced government’s ire and often been attacked and jailed. NAPM stands in solidarity with KMSS and other students groups of the region who have been consistently opposed to the big dams in highly sensitive seismic zone. We condemn the sustained action and harassment of KMSS and their activists and targeting of Akhil Gogoi for constantly opposing the destructive development policies and corruption of the government machinery.
For past few weeks there been a serious agitation going on against the Assam government and National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC). Thousands and thousands of people - daily wage earners, farmers, school teachers, students, and others from middle class have been gathering at the protest site at Lakhimpur town.
The dam on river Subansiri at Gerukamukh is for the 2010 MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Electric Project (LSHEP) under the NHPC. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2015, but a series of questions need to be answered about the big dams, like impact on agriculture, fishes, ecology, earthquakes etc.
The Assamese farmers have joined this movement spontaneously because they have learnt from their experiences. Small hydro-projects have already taught them a lesson. For past several years, they have no cultivation as sand siltation had damaged their fields, sudden floods caused by the water released by the hydro-projects have led them to nowhere.
Even though a report by an expert committee comprising scientists from IIT Guwahati and universities in Assam have advised the government against mega dams in a tectonically unstable region, NHPC and Assam Government is hell bent on implementing the project. Arunachal Pradesh has at least 140 hydroelectric projects, big and small, in various stages of construction, together they will endanger the life of residents of people not only in downstream but in upstream as well.
NAPM urges the State and Union government to seriously look at dam building in the country in light of the ongoing controversy over the Mullaperiyar Dam, ongoing agitations against the big dams in Assam, Vishungadh-Pipalkoti HEP in Uttarakhand, Polavaram in Andhra Pradesh, and various dams in Narmada Valley. Dams as a technological tool for development, irrigation, flood control have been exposed. It is high time serious thought was given towards decommissioning of the dams rather than building more big dams.
We demand from Assam government that the protesters be released immediately and big dams in Brahmaputra River Valley, Subansiri rivers be all together scrapped. Ministry of Water Resources in this regard should take the lead and stop planning dams in different states of North East in a highly active seismic zone.
Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Prafulla Samantara, Ramakrishna Raju, Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi, Anand Mazgaonkar, Madhuresh Kumar
National Alliance for People’s Movements