ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Deafening Silence on Calamity Facing Assam

The big dams being proposed to be built in the foothills of the Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh are posing a horrendous threat to the people of Assam in the plains and there is an extremely grave probability that the lives and livelihood of 30 to 40 lakhs of indigenous people will be washed away by devastating floods unleashed by the dams being built for generation of electricity. There is a further danger that those big dams (one of them expected to be the highest in the world with a retention capacity of more than 2,700 million cubic metres!) will collapse if an earthquake of more than 8 Richter magnitude occurs in one of the world’s most highly sensitive seismic zones. There has been tremendous public outrage and resentment at the way the central government, crazed with a neoliberal bias towards corporate profitability to the exclusion of human concerns, is handling this problem.

From the scores of protest meetings and spreading movements it is clear that the authorities are paying no heed to the people’s concerns. Local residents both in Arunachal and Assam have alleged that the so-called “public hearings” were stagemanaged and the 4 September 2001 public hearing took place without 96% of the people to be affected having been aware of it. Having attended and presided over a number of public meetings on the issue addressed by eminent engineers and environmental experts, the last held on 26 August this year, I have gathered the following startling information to which I would like to draw the attention of the conscious Indian public at large.

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