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

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.