Jairam got facts wrong on N-E projects: Engineers
As reported in The Indian Express today, Ramesh supported a "moratorium on any further clearances for hydel projects in Arunachal Pradesh" citing downstream impacts. But hydro-power project engineers associated with the Central Water Commission (CWC) of the Ministry of Water Resources expressed surprise, saying most of the 135 hydel projects in Arunachal, with a few exceptions, are of small capacity. In fact, 77 are less than 100 MW capacity and unlikely to cause much downstream impact in terms of riverine ecology.
These engineers pointed out that barring a few, all the projects there are run-of-river projects without the capacity to hold more than a day's waterflow upstream. Run-of-river projects store water during the day to release it during a specified period, called peaking hours, to generate power. The entire cycle is usually repeated every 24 hours, thereby not storing water to choke the flow downstream.
The projects there will generate power close to the dam site, unlike many other run-of-river projects that divert water through tunnels to generation units several kilometres apart. In the latter case, reduction in waterflow can be felt before the water is again brought to the river several kilometres downstream from the dam. This is not the case with almost any of the projects in the North-East.
The Lower Subansiri and Lower Demwe projects singled out by Ramesh are run-of-river projects. What has amused engineers is the talk of adverse downstream impact on Jorhat and Sibsagar because of the Lower Subansiri project — the towns are on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra while the project is on the north side.
Ramesh has also red-flagged the Mangdechhu hydel project in Bhutan saying it will adversely impact the Manas river in Assam. But he forgets that this project too is a run-of-river, about 150 km upstream from the Indian border and the impact, if any, would weaken by the time it reaches India, an engineer said.
Meanwhile, Takam Sanjoy, Congress MP from Arunachal Pradesh, today slammed Ramesh for taking up the cause of those against projects in Arunachal Pradesh.
"Ramesh should be supporting the developmental needs and the efforts of the UPA in this direction. Under no circumstances should he become a pawn in the hands of a clutch of environmentalists and human rights activists from Assam," Sanjoy told The Indian Express, adding that Ramesh did not even bother to consult Arunachal MPs before writing to the Prime Minister.
"He is creating havoc by trying to harm national interest. I fail to understand why is he so inimical to the interests of Arunachal people. Arunachal should not be handled like other states he handled so whimsically. The strategy of not developing Arunachal Pradesh in the past has been one of the weakest defence strategies which is now being rectified by the UPA government," Sanjoy said.
Sources said Arunachal CM Dorjee Khandu too protested against Ramesh's stance and took up the matter with Congress president Sonia Gandhi recently.
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