James Sangma
File image of Meghalaya power minister James Sangma

Shillong: A day after the Joint Action Committee (JAC) against Umngot Hydro Electric Project reiterated its demand to scrap the project, Meghalaya power minister James Sangma said that all concerns, be it environmental in nature or socioeconomic, will be addressed before going ahead with it.

Highlighting that the project is essential since there is an acute shortage of power in the state, Sangma said that there is a need to ramp up power generation. “However, it’s up to the government to decide whether it scraps the project or not,” he added.

“But as I’ve always mentioned, all stakeholders will be consulted. Only then will we go ahead with the project,” said Sangma.

When asked if the government has received any NOC as they tried to hold a public hearing over the issue, Sangma said he was not aware of the details.

“I am very confident about how the government has gone ahead with the project. There is no question of the government trying to circumvent legal or procedural issues. It has done due diligence on the entire matter,” said Sangma.

The government’s proposed 210-MW Umngot Hydro Electric Project has been facing a backlash after several stakeholders opposed it fearing its impact on environment and the famous Umngot River, known for its crystal-clear waters.

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Earlier, the JAC, comprising several stakeholders including Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Jaintia Students’ Union (JSU), Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP), Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) and Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF), among others, had demanded that the project should be scrapped and that they will not entertain any more talks or discussions.

According to the stakeholders they have opposed the project since nearly 20-25 villages, both in East Khasi Hills and West Jaintia Hills district, are likely to be affected due to the proposed project.

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