NEW DELHI: In the latest development over the controversial 2000-MW Subansiri Lower Hydro Electric Project in Arunachal Pradesh, the Supreme Court has considered an application seeking directions to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to decide on the objections over the constitution of the expert committee. The Centre has already agreed with its recommendations.

The Assam Tribune had earlier reported that the application filed by Tularam Gogoi and Abhijit Sarma had been accepted. This latest development comes at a time when the Centre’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has already given its approval to the expert committee’s recommendations on the project.

The construction of the dam has been stalled since December 2011 following protests over its downstream impact in Assam. However, there have been sporadic reports that maintenance work was resumed in recent months.

The project is being constructed on the Subansiri river running along the Arunachal Pradesh-Assam interstate boundary by the NHPC. The hydropower project has been the subject of several litigation and the NGT had formed an expert committee to review the design of the dam to reduce the environmental damage in downstream Assam.

The environment ministry’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) met last month to discuss the matter of the construction of the dam and heard the NGT’s three-member expert committee’s recommendations. Even the NGT’s expert committee had come under scrutiny from Gogoi and Sarma, who had alleged that members of the committee were in the past associated with organisations that been involved with the hydropower project in different capacities.

During the April 23 meeting, the ministry’s EAC heard the recommendations of the NGT’s expert committee. While the ministry did not reveal the recommendations made by the expert committee, citing that “the matter is sub-judice”, the EAC said that it “agreed with the recommendations”.

“EAC observed that the Expert Committee has performed their task in line with the Hon’ble NGT order dated 16.10.2017 and recommendation made are based on the facts and studies carried out for Lower Subansiri HEP by the various committees in the past, site visit, as well as meetings with the stakeholders,” the recently-released minutes of the EAC meeting noted.

During the same meeting, the EAC also agreed to extend the terms of reference of the 608-MW Attunli Hydro Electric Project on the Tangon river in Arunachal Pradesh’s Dibang Valley district.

The proposed project is to be built by M/s Attunli Hydro Electric Power Company Ltd (AHEPCL)- a joint venture between Jindal Power Limited and the state-owned Hydro Power Development Corporation of Arunachal Pradesh (HPDCAP). The project is located upstream of Tangon limb of the 3097 MW-Etalin Hydroelectric Project.

The EAC, while granting the terms of reference, set riders including that data about the environmental flow of the river must be made available and compared with the recommendation made in the basin study.