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Meghalaya, Assam residents raise pitch

Opposition against Killing hydel project on Umiam gains momentum on either side

A cultural troupe performs a dance during the protest rally organized by the Joint Action Committee against the Killing hydro-electric project, held at Umswai  Playground in Karbi Anglong District of Assam on Friday. (ST)
A cultural troupe performs a dance during the protest rally organized by the Joint Action Committee against the Killing hydro-electric project, held at Umswai
Playground in Karbi Anglong District of Assam on Friday. (ST)

NONGPOH: The opposition to the proposed Killing Hydro Electric Project on the Umiam River has gathered steam as people from both Meghalaya and Assam have come together to voice their opposition and concern against the project and to demand withdrawal of the No Objection Certificate issued to NEEPCO by the two state governments.
A protest rally organized by the Joint Action Committee against the Killing Hydro Electric Project held at Umswai Playground in Karbi Anglong District of Assam on Friday brought people from the neighbouring states together with a common objective of safeguarding their villages.
A 5000-strong crowd braved the scorching sun to show their solidarity and unity against the proposed construction of the proposed 240 MW Hydroelectric project by NEEPCO.
The rally resolved not to be subdued or crumble under any pressure or move by the government or NEEPCO but to continue to fight till their death against the construction of the dam.
Memoranda in this regard were submitted to Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and Power Minister Clement Marak through Mawhati MLA Julius K Dorphang and to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi through Baithalangso MLA Mansingh Rongpih.
Notably, the NEEPCO has proposed to construct a 240 MW hydro electric project at Umiam River near Lamalong with a 100-metre high dam and    has even obtained NOCs from both the state governments.
There are fears that construction of the dam will submerge an area more than 600 sq.km. and displace more than 20 inhabited villages affecting over 1000 families. Besides human displacement, the dam will also submerge agricultural land, heritage sites and flora and fauna etc.
Addressing the gathering, Mansingh Rongpih said that if the dam is constructed, then, the people will not only be homeless but jobless too.
He also said that the tribal people comprising of the Khasis, the Lalungs and the Mikirs who dwell and farm in this manure-rich and fertile area specially formed by the river Umiam, mainly depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
Rongpih feared that construction of the dam will pose a threat to the survival of these small tribes. He also lamented that they inhabit a small dot on the globe, and if this particular area is squeezed then there will be no more place on earth for these communities.
Mawhati legislator Julius Dorphang said that the people of the areas need development but not at the cost of their home and livelihood. He also assured the people of the areas that he will back them in their struggle against the construction of the dam.
The rally appealed to all the people of the two states, the various organisations, social activists and individuals to come out in their support and protest against the proposed project.

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