Skip to main content

BJP won Assam polls on anti-dam plank, new government promises to "honour" commitment to people

Site of Subansiri hydro project in Arunachal Pradesh
By Our Representative
Have India's well-known anti-dam activists led by Medha Patkar and her Narmada Bachao Andolan has found an unusual ally in the new BJP rulers in Assam? A multi-country site, claiming to focus mainly on Asia's water crisis and its relationship with climate change, has revealed that the Assam government has vowed to oppose big dams.
While it is not known how would Prime Minister Narendra Modi entertain such a view, as he is known to be a great supporter of big dams like the controversial one being built on Narmada, the site reports that “in a region dotted with large dam projects and public protests against them, the state’s water resources minister says big dams ruin environment.”
The site says, “Environmental issues seem to have played an important role in the recently concluded assembly elections in the Indian state of Assam. The alliance led by the BJP focussed a major part of its campaign on these issues, and these have worked in its favour, possibly signalling the first time in India when an election hinged on the environment. ”
It quotes the newly appointed Water Resources minister, Keshab Mahanta as telling thethirdpole.net that the new government is “opposed to big dams as those will damage the environment.” Mahanta adds, “We will push for micro and mini hydro power projects, to make the state self-sufficient in power.”
Author of the article Amarjyoti Borah on the site says, “The BJP’s election manifesto promised that it would focus on smaller dams that have minimum adverse impacts on the environment. On the large dams in and around the neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh, it had promised that the suggestions of the expert committees will be taken into consideration – many of which have recommended caution against the construction of mega-projects.”
Borah quotes Sarbananda Sonowal, Assam’s chief minister, as repeatedly saying during the election campaign that, if voted to power, he would “take steps to curb the problem of flooding in all the urban and rural areas in the state, and we will also take steps to dredge the Brahmaputra river so that the depth of the river increases and flooding decreases.”
Borah believes, “The party’s promise on dams may have helped the BJP led alliance win a record 33 seats out of the 38 in the upper Assam districts of Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Jorhat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia. All these districts are likely to bear the brunt of big dams being built or proposed in the region, and besides this are heavily flood affected districts.”
Borah also says, “The BJP had recognised the importance of environmental issues in the run-up to the 2014 general elections when it promised a relook into the big dam projects in the North East. At an election rally at Pasighat, in Arunachal Pradesh on February 22, 2014, Narendra Modi said that honouring the sentiments of the region’s people against large dams, he would prefer smaller hydro power projects in the region. ”
The article quotes a research on relationship between environment and the Assam polls, by the Guwahati-based Centre for Environment Social and Policy Research's (CESPR's), which found that. unlike earlier elections when most people were focussed on issues of security and roti, kapda aur makan (bread, clothes and housing), “now voters also wanted politicians to speak about environmental issues as well.”

Comments

TRENDING

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Gujarat religious freedom amendment bill 'pursues' votebank politics, is anti-minority

Gujarat home minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja  By Our Representative  A Gujarat-based minority rights organisation, taking strong exception to the state assembly last week passing the Gujarat Religious Freedom (Amendment) Bill, 2021, has asserted that the proposed law “is completely unconstitutional”, even as asking the Gujarat governor to give his accent to it.