Expert panel chalks out work plan

Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, Jan 11 – The three-member Expert Committee (EC) constituted by the Union Government in pursuance of the October 16, 2017 order of the Eastern Zone (EZ) Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for resolving the issues concerning the 2,000-MW Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project (LSHEP), has chalked out a work plan. The work plan includes review of various technical reports on the LSHEP. These reports include those of the Assam Expert Group, Technical Expert Committee, Joint Steering Committee, Design Review Panel, Project Oversight Committee (POC) and other reports, if any, said the minutes of the December 21 and 22 EC meeting.

The EC will also hold discussions with the expert institutes and organisations like the Central Water Commission (CWC), Central Electricity Authority (CEA), IITs, CWPRS, Geological Survey of India (GSI), NIRMS, etc., besides holding meetings with the officials concerned of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh Governments and visiting the LSHEP site.

The Expert Committee has also decided to hold meetings with the Assam experts who were members of the POC and Abhijeet Sarma and Tularam Gogoi, the two applicants of the NGT case on the LSHEP issue. It will also hold meetings with the IIT Guwahati experts, if felt necessary.

The EC held meeting with the Union Government nominated experts of the POC on December 21 and the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) officials made a presentation before it on December 22 on the issue of the alternative dam proposal submitted by applicant Abhijeet Sarma before the NGT EZ Bench. The EC members asked the NHPC to submit its response on the alternative dam proposal in the form of a report.

The experts from Assam on the POC could not attend the meeting. Abhijeet Sarma and Tularam Gogoi also did not attend the meeting. Both of them have now moved the NGT EZ Bench expressing their objections to the way the EC has been constituted.

Significantly, the Union Ministry of Power informed the POC experts from the State of the December 21 and 22 meeting with a letter {No. 2/5/2012-NHPC (Part-I) Ministry of Power (NHPC Desk)} issued on December 19, 2017.

Applicant Tularam Gogoi had served a legal notice on the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on the issue of constitution of the EC. The MoEFCC told Gogoi’s advocate that both the non-official experts of the committee – Dr Prabhas Pandey and Dr ID Gupta – have given “No Conflict of Interest” certificate. The third expert – PM Scott, from the Central Water Commission, is an official member. “Thus, the Committee has been constituted as per the Order of the Hon’ble NGT, Kolkata,” said the MoEFCC.

Meanwhile, Gogoi has moved the NGT EZ Bench with an execution application with the pleas to direct the MoEFCC to quash the EC constitution order and also to constitute a new EC by appointing members who do not have personal, institutional and official bias, among others.

Gogoi’s petition has been registered by the NGT Bench as Execution Application 1/2018 and January 19, 2018 has been fixed as the date for hearing on its admissibility.

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