Guwahati: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 31st, 2019, while clearing the deck for the Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border, has dismissed a plea seeking reconstitution of the Environment Ministry Committee (EAC), which was set up to study the project.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the bench has not found any material on record justifying the plea of “bias” with regard to the existing committee on the 2000 MW project.
“The EAC has conducted the appraisal. The competent Authority has agreed with the same. The mere association of organisations with the project in a professional capacity is not enough to hold that any expert who worked in such association will have an institutional bias,” said the bench also comprising Justices S P Wangdi and K Ramakrishnan.
The NGT further said, “The plea of the applicant is farfetched. Moreover, the present Committee has an only recommendatory role. There is the safeguard of further evaluation by experts. The project is to advance the public interest.”
The tribunal heard the pleas filed by activists Aabhijeet Sharma and Tularam Gogoi seeking directions to reconstitute the expert committee on the ground of bias.
While opposing the prayer, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited said that the members of the expert committee are highly qualified and there was no basis for attributing any bias to them.
“The cost of the project as assessed in December 2002 was Rs 6,285.33 crore. Due to delay, the cost has already gone to Rs 18,000 crore. A sum of Rs 9,610 has already been invested. 50 per cent of the work has been completed till December 2011. Each day delay was causing a loss of Rs 10 crore. The project has been duly cleared by all the statutory authorities and is for flood moderation and electricity generation which is to promote the public interest,” the NHPC said.
According to the NHPC authority, the project will now take three-and-a-half-year to build get completed and start the generation.