SHILLONG/JOWAI, March 31: Deputy Chief Prestone Tynsong on Wednesday refused to comment on the demand to do away with the proposed hydroelectric project in Umngot river of West Jaintia Hills stating that it is subjected to discussion.
“This is subject to discussion. Let the concerned department take the initiative. If you believe whatever reports in the newspaper as final, it cannot be true. That is why I don’t want to comment on anything. The concerned department will take the initiative of sitting across the table and discussing the matter,” said Tynsong.
Maintaining that if he reacts now instead of holding proper discussion, he will only be closing the door, the deputy chief minister, however, said, “Procedure is in place for any project, be it related to road, power or any other sector. Number one in the procedure is to do public hearing and then state impact assessment has to be carried out. Until and unless we get these details, we can’t say anything. Let the work begin”.
He cited that for road projects as well the state government had to complete many stages.
“I don’t want to comment right now. Let the process and discussion start. If that fails then only I can comment as it is subject to discussion,” he added.
Asked about concerns being raised that the tourism sector at Dawki will be hit hard due to the proposed project, the deputy chief minister said, “Who said tourism and power is not main revenue of the state? Who said we do not have crisis in power supply?”
Voice against proposed dam grows louder
Close on the heels of the Jaintia Students Union (JSU) raising its voice against the proposed hydroelectric project on the Umngot, traditional heads of Elaka Darrang under Amlarem Sub-division in West Jaintia Hills have expressed strong objection against the project terming it as a death knell for social and traditional development and livelihood of the locals. In a letter addressed to the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council, the Elaka Darrang, represented by Dolloi, P. Lymba and Secretary, KM Ryngksai, said the proposed project would cause flooding of arable land and soil erosion, besides eliminating all scope for tourism which is one of the mainstays of the residents living on the lower reaches like Shnongpdeng, Darrang and Dawki.
“As you are aware that the Umngot river that flows towards the Elaka Darrang is famous all around the world for being the only crystal clear river in Meghalaya. Therefore we the local residents of the Elaka strongly oppose the idea to construct a dam on the Umngot river,” the letter addressed to various departments, government officials and politicians said.
Earlier, the JSU had written to the Chief Executive Member of the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council expressing opposition to the proposed hydroelectric project.