Assam – PUDR statement in solidarity with protest against big dam project in Lakhimpur

May 22, 2012

22th May 2012

PRESS RELEASE

PUDR extend our support and solidarity with the protesters sitting on an indefinite fast since 19 May, to protest against the construction of the big dam project on river Subansiri in Lakhimpur district in Assam. Akhil Gogoi, general secretary of the farmers’ body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti began the fast on Saturday. The fast followed the atrocious police action on the peaceful anti-dam protestors in Lakhimpur district of Assam on 11 May 2012.Their demands include:

* Immediate halt to the police excess on anti-dam activists.
* Suspension of work on Lower Subansiri and all other dams in the north east.
* Rebuilding the inspection sites of the of the activists dismantled by the CRPF and police last week.
* Disciplinary actions on officials who attacked the peaceful protesters and also
* Release of activists arrested during the eviction drive by police in Lakhimpur on April 11.

PUDR denounces the response of the authorities towards the anti-dam protesters. The dissenters have been labelled as Maoists by the Assam government. It is a shame that instead of engaging with the just demands of a democratic protest, the Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi termed the fast as a ‘political gimmick’ and accused Akhil Gogoi of colluding with Maoist groups to hinder the State’s development.

PUDR had issued a statement on May 15 condemning the police action against the protesters.It was notified that till the end of April 2012, reportedly 168 MoUs/ MoAs have been signed by the Govt of Arunanchal Pradesh. The 2000 MW lower Subansiri project is one among them and is being constructed for NHPC by Larsen and Toubro and Soma. It is feared that the construction is likely to submerge the 70 km upstream and affect the lives and livelihood of over 700 families, majority of who are adivasis. In the downstream area, which largely falls in Assam, the dam is likely to devastate the livelihood of 39 lakh fisher folk and immerse about 3436 ha of forest land, including wildlife habitat. The dam will also affect the agriculture activities in the large part of Assam with the increase of deposit of sand over presently cultivable land.

Today, we urge the Assam Government that disciplinary action is taken against all officials who were part of the attack on the protestors. We also demand that all construction activities should be suspended until the cumulative impact study, as promised by Prime Minister, is successfully completed in the entire north east by engaging the people whose livelihood will be affected by these dams.

PUDR expresses deep solidarity with all those on the indefinite fast and supports the legitimate demands of the agitators whose lives are at stake due to the fatal construction.

Paramjeet Singh, Preeti Chauhan
Secretaries, PUDR