Congress demands special Assembly session in Assam

Congress demands special Assembly session in Assam over dam controversy, crimes against women

Saikia said that crimes against women has been steadily increasing in the state under the BJP-led government

Representative image. Credit: AFP Photo

The Opposition Congress on Sunday demanded a special session of the Assam Assembly to discuss the purported threat posed by the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project (LSHEP) and rising crimes against women in the state.

Addressing a press conference here, Leader of Opposition in Assam Assembly Debabrata Saikia said that completion of the LSHEP, the biggest hydroelectric project to have been undertaken in the country so far, will spell disaster for Assam, especially for the three districts of Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, and Majuli.

“These three districts are on the verge of destruction due to the government’s mistake,” the senior Congress leader claimed.

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The project, being developed by the state-run National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), is on the Subansiri River, which is on the border of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. The construction of the project started in 2005 and was due to be completed in 2010. However, it was delayed due to resistance over its potential environmental impact.

The projected time of completion of the 2,000 MW LSHEP is March 2023, as per the official website of NHPC.

Pointing out that 75 per cent of the work of the project has been completed without heeding the protests of people, Saikia said, the Congress is not against big dams but wants safety measures and efforts addressing environmental issues.

Saikia mentioned that the previous BJP-led state government under Sarbananda Sonowal had signed an MoU with the NHPC in 2019 without implementing recommendations of an expert committee that was formed in 2010 to study possible destruction by the big dam.

Though the dam is in Arunachal Pradesh, its impact concerning the release of excess water as well as other downstream effects would be felt more in Assam, the Congress leader said.

Saikia pointed that the expert committee formed by the then chief minister late Tarun Gogoi had observed in its report that a big dam should not be constructed at the site. The committee had also recommended the implementation of safety and other measures suggested by previous expert panels, Saikia said.

Sonowal had signed the agreement with the NHPC without implementing the suggestions, the Congress leader alleged.

“Arunachal Pradesh will receive 200 MW of electricity solely due to the reason that the powerhouse and reservoir are located in that state while Assam will receive only 25 MW and the possibility of destruction here,” the Congress leader said.

He further said that crimes against women has been steadily increasing in the state under the BJP-led governments since 2016.

“Crimes against women have increased exponentially while the rate of conviction in such cases is a mere 5.5 per cent against the rate of acquittal at 93.2 per cent in the last five years. Due to this, questions have been raised regarding the role of police and administration,” he said.

He demanded a special session of the Assembly to discuss the issue and pass a special law for the security of women. 

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