Tiwa and Karbi Anglong Residents Strongly Oppose New Dam Project

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Locals Oppose 240 MW Hydro Project

Controversy has surfaced among the Tiwa community along the Assam Meghalaya border particularly in Amri MAC constituency relating to issuance of ‘no objection’ certificate to North Eastern Power Corporation (NEEPCO) by both Assam and Meghalaya government. This has been done to conduct a survey to ascertain the prospect of a 240 megawatt hydro electric project over Killing river on the Assam – Meghaya border.

It may be mentioned here that river Killing or Umiam originates from high altitude in Meghalaya and merges with river Kopili near Nagaon district. The proposed dam will be constructed in the upper stream of the river within Karbi Anglong district.

Karbi Anglong District Tiwa Students Union and Tiwa Mathonlai Tokhra, All Tiwa Students Union, MLA of Baithalangso Dr. Mansing Rongpi, MLA of Mawhatty, Re – Bhoi district Meghalaya JuliesDorphang, Village headman and government recognised headman, traditional or customary heads of Karbi and other community held a protest rally at Umswoai playground yesterday and submitted a memorandum to Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, urging him to retract the NOC issued to NEEPCO on September 26, 2012 for building the project.

There was a very little discussion on a similar NOC issued to NEEPCO by Assam government on July 25, 2013 clearing all legal hurdles for survey and commissioning the project.

The local public leaders claimed they were not consulted by anyone in state government before they issued the NOC of such a sensitive matter where life and livelihood of thousands of people are at stake and there will be a massive environmental impact on a vast area.

“If this project is allowed to go ahead and erection of dyke for the project is allowed, around 30 thousand hectares of land within Assam and approximately 25 thousand hectares of terrain of Meghalaya in the downstream of the river will be inundated whenever surfeit water is released. Around 15 thousand people of Assam and 10 thousand people of Meghalaya will have to face flash flood like situation perennially,” Dr. Mansing Rongpi MLA of Baithalangso said.

Various Tiwa and Karbi organizations also claimed that vast areas of Nagaon, Morigaon and Kamrup district will face a disastrous situation whenever excess water is released from the project due to inundation caused by artificial deluges; this will also in a straight line wipe out vast areas of natural forest existing in both the states.

The organizations while expressing concern over short-sighted action of the state governments and KAAC have demanded immediate withdrawal of the permission granted by the authorities for construction of the project. The organizations have sought the intervention of Ministry of Environment and Forest in this matter so that the proposed project can be stopped at the opening stage.

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in Assam, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora of Assam, and the things that affect them.