Thursday, February 29, 2024

MeECL comes under fire

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Umngot Power Project opposed at public hearing

By Our Reporter

People at the public hearing on the proposed Umgot power project on Tuesday. (Photo by Mewanshwa Kharshiing)

 Shillong: The Megh-alaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) came under severe criticism during a public hearing on Tuesday for presenting incorrect data with regards to the draft final report of the assessment of the proposed 30X8 MW Umngot Hydroelectric Power Project at East Khasi Hills.

The facts and details presented by MeECL on the surveys conducted for the proposed power project were questioned by the people at the hearing held at Siangkhnai, East Khasi Hills on Tuesday.

“They (MeECL) claimed that it had conducted survey in many areas under Khyrim Syiemship but no such survey had taken place,” a resident of Umsawar village in East Khasi Hills Joe Thangkhiew claimed.

Strongly opposing the public hearing, Thangkhiew said reports are available to prove that whatever claims the MeECL has made with regard to this power project were all wrong.

“This is not a public hearing but a fan-fare. With unfounded facts being unearthed, it is easy to say that public hearing is just a formality to comply with the terms set by the Central government,” he alleged.

Several traditional heads of Raid and Elaka falling under the Hima Khyrim have refused to go give go ahead to the project saying that they would announce their decision only after every minute details of the project are presented with clarity.

This 30X8 MW power project of the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) received its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification from the Ministry of Forests and Environment, Government of India in 2006 and the site clearance was given in 2007. Assessment and survey was started in 2008.

The state government has awarded this work to the Agricultural Finance Corporation and based on the Central government’s direction. The state government has to submit the report following the terms and references of the EIA and Environment Management Plan (EMP) for approval together with agreements of the people of the Hima and affected areas. According to reports presented by Superintending Engineer (SE) Investigation Design-MeECL HW Lyngdoh Mawnai earlier, the estimate of the project in 2010 was Rs 1564 crore but after escalation and interest, the cost has increased to Rs 1853 crore. He also informed that the proposed project would probably be completed within 6 years. It was also informed that this project will cover only one percent of the total covered area which is 390 hectares of the total land cover of around 40,000 hectares. Taking note of such careless behaviour of MeECL, Syiem of Hima Khyrim Dr Balajied S Syiem urged the corporation to conduct an awareness programme on the project.

Chaired by East Khasi Hills Additional Deputy Commissioner Abhishek Sisodya, the public hearing witnessed mass opposition from different section of the people who asked the government to provide first preferences to the affected households.

While, residents in East Khasi Hills are temporality opposing this project, residents of Jaintia Hills who would be affected by the said project has already welcomed the proposed hydel project, while calling upon the MeECL to fasten up the work.

Organized by the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB), the public hearing was also attended by state police personnel, Chief Project Manager of Myntdu Leshka Power Project Elias Lyngdoh, officers of MeECL and MSPCB, the Sordar and Myntri of Hima Khyrim, members of the KSU Central Body and local residents that area.

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