Meghalaya hydro projects won’t affect Bangladesh: Marak

Shillong, April 10 (IANS) Amid fresh concerns in Bangladesh over the construction of two proposed dams in Meghalaya, State Power Minister Clement Marak said Wednesday construction of the hydropower projects would not have any impact in Bangladesh.

Power-starved Meghalaya is proposing to construct two dams: One across the Umiew River known as Mawphu Hydro Electric Project in East Khasi Hills, and another across Myntdu River known as Myntdu-Leshka Hydro Electric Project Stage-II in the West Jaintia Hills.

The 85 MW Mawphu project would be built by the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (Neepco) on the Umiew River in East Khasi Hills District at an estimated cost of Rs.453.81 crore.

“The project is planned as a run-of-the-river scheme and as such there will be no impoundment of water. The flow regime of those rivers therefore will not be affected,” Marak said, while replying to a calling attention motion moved by opposition United Democratic Party legislator Paul Lyngdoh in the assembly.

Moreover, the power minister said that there will be no diversion of water from both the rivers, since the project has neither an irrigation nor drinking water component.

“The project shall utilise mostly the available discharge in the river, drawn through a 4.07 km-long tunnel to the power house generating 362.53 million units, meeting the same river downstream through a 45 meter-long channel,” he said.

with regard to offering a stake to Bangladesh in the two projects, Marak said that the Meghalaya government has not received intimation from the Ministry of External Affairs or the Ministry of Power in this regard.

“Further action in the matter will be initiated after a response is received from the Government of India,” he said.

Earlier, Lyngdoh said that if the project is stalled by Bangladesh, Meghalaya will run the risk of being a power-starved state.

“These irritants (with Bangladesh) should be ironed out and adequate production of power should remain a priority of the government,” Lyngdoh said.

Bangladesh opposed the construction of the two dams since both were on common rivers between Bangladesh and India.

Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni had asked New Delhi not to unilaterally proceed on building these dams, as Dhaka also wants them to be sorted out in the Joint River Commission that includes officials from both countries.

The Joint Rivers Commission of Bangladesh had wanted New Delhi to wait until an impact assessment on various sectors in Bangladesh had been jointly conducted and water sharing agreements were signed between the two countries for both the common rivers.

Dhaka is also objecting to the proposed construction of the 1,500-MW Tipaimukh hydel power project in Manipur.

The project would be executed by the National Hydel Power Corporation with Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam and the Manipur government.

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