Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Saturday assured 'total security' for National Hydroelectric Power Corporation(NHPC) workers engaged in the construction of Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric project (LSHP) and said an expert committee will be formed soon to study its downstream impact.
   
Work on the project has come to a halt since December following vehement protests by anti-dam agitators and NHPC Executive Director Rakesh has urged Assam and Arunachal Pradesh governments to provide security.
   
"Our job is to provide security which we will do. If there is any defect in the dam construction which could lead to disaster that can be looked after," Gogoi told reporters at Guwahati.
   
"We will form an expert committee comprising specialists from abroad, including US, Portugal and France to study the impact of construction of big dams," he said.
   
On the protest by various local organisation including the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), the chief minister said "protests are a part of democracy".
   
Work at the 2000 MW project being set up at Gerukamukh bordering Assam and Arunachal Pradesh has been halted by anti-dam protests launched by KMSS and other organizations which contend that it would cause large-scale downstream damage in Assam.
   
Rakesh had yesterday said the company is losing an estimated Rs four to Rs five crore daily since December due to protests and this has escalated the project cost to Rs 10,799.63 crore from the earlier estimates of Rs 6,285.33 crore.
   
Contractor labourers have left the site as there is no work and NHPC is spending considerable money on corporate social responsibility as per norms, he said.
   
The two-member Thatte committee, set up by the Planning Commission, is probing the downstream impact of the project and is expected to submit its report by the month end.

Gogoi said Assam was listed seventh among the highest developed ones in the country and claimed that good fiscal management had made it possible.
   
"Today the mood is upbeat and people feel free to go out after dark which was not the case during Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) rule in the state," he claimed.
   
In 2011-12 the state's GDP was 8.42 per cent, an all time high for the state, which he said "is moving in the right direction although there is no place for complacency".
   
Lambasting the erstwhile AGP government under Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, Gogoi alleged that secret killings of ULFA kin was the rule of the day.
   
"Only 16 cases have been chargesheeted while the main culprits were not punished as the government machinery was involved. We are helpless (to punish the guilty) due to lack of evidence," he said.
   
Only 176 families had been provided government compensation but that is very few, he said.
   
On the renewed demand for a separate Bodoland in lower Assam, the chief minister said there should not be any divide between Bodos and non-Bodos.
   
"We want all communities - tribals and non-tribals should live together in peace in the state," he said.

(Agencies)

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