May 26: Dispur today reiterated its commitment towards setting up of the 2,000MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Electric Power Project despite peasant leader Akhil Gogoi's ongoing fast-unto-death in protest against construction of big dams in the region.
The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), which is spearheading a movement against construction of big dams in the region, says execution of the lower Subansiri project at Gerukamukh would have adverse downstream impact on human lives and the environment.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, while speaking at an event organised at the Sarusajai stadium here today to celebrate the first anniversary of his government's third term, asserted that the now-stalled lower Subansiri dam was in the interests of Assam and its people. "The Subansiri project is necessary for our state and its people for electrification of our villages. But at the same time, we will have to ensure safeguards against any future problem. Subansiri is in the interest of our people and Assam," Gogoi said, conveying, in the process, the government's commitment to the project.
Work on the Subansiri dam came to halt in mid-December last year after the anti-dam lobby stepped up its demand to get project scrapped. Dispur, however, has remained unwavering in its stand.
Gogoi also used today's event to send home the message that his government has been striving to wipe out insurgency through development. He said Dispur was coming up with an education policy that is employment-oriented and Assam-specific while talking about the threat from erosion and the need to launch a reclamation drive.
Reacting to Gogoi's statement, KMSS leader Kamal Medhi said his organisation would continue its movement till the government stopped work at Subansiri and abandoned all big dam projects. "We are ready sacrifice our lives for the cause. Akhil Gogoi and many other KMSS leaders today completed a week of their hunger strike against execution of the lower Subansiri project and the fast will continue till the government concedes to the justified demands of the KMSS and other anti-dam organisations," Medhi said.
He said the KMSS today waved black flags and flew black balloons in Guwahati in protest against the visit of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, "who is backing corporates to exploit the water resources of the state."
Doctors at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital said the health of KMSS general secretary Akhil Gogoi was stable.