Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project, India


The 2000 MW Lower Subansiri hydroelectric power Project, proposed to come up at Gerukamukh of Assam Arunachal border is the first large hydroelectric project to be constructed in the Subansiri river basin.

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Basic Data
NameLower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project, India
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Lower Subansiri hydroelectric power project (LHSEP) is the part of an ambitious plan of government of Indian to generate 50,000MW.

The Subansiri hydropower project has three components, namely the 2,000MW Upper Subansiri, the 1,600MW Middle Subansiri, and the 2,000MW Lower Subansiri.

The cost of Lower Subansiri project was originally estimated to be INR62.85bn ($1.16bn) at 2002 price level but has since been revised to INR106.6bn ($1.97bn) at 2010 price level. The project cost is expected to further go up because of the delay.

The project cost is being met through 70% equity and 30% debt financing by the provision of a term loan. The central government is providing budgetary support as part of the equity component.

The LHSEP consists of a concrete gravity dam, which will be 116m high from the river bed level and 130m from foundation. The length of the dam will be 284m. The gross storage capacity of the reservoir will be 1.37km3.

The power house will be equipped with eight 250MW Francis turbines located on surface on the left bank of the river. It will also have eight horse shoe shaped head race tunnels (diameter 9.5m and length varying from 608m to 1,168m), eight horse shoe shaped surge tunnels (diameter 9.5m and length varying from 400m to 485m) and eight circular penstocks (diameter varying between 400m and 485m, and length between 7m and 9.5m). A tail race channel (35m long and 206m wide) will take the water discharged by the turbines back to the river [4].
Level of Investment (in USD)1.970,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2003
Company Names or State EnterprisesNational Hydroelectric Power Corporation of India (NHPC) from India
Central Electricity Authority (CEA) from India
Relevant government actorsAssam Government, Ministry of Environment & Forest , Government of India, Assam Pollution Control Board
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersPeoples Movement for Subansiri Brahmaputra Valley [PMSBV], River Basin Friends, All Assam Students Union [AASU], The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity [KMSS], The Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad [AJYCP], Takam Mising Porin Kebang [TMPK], Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group (India), International Rivers (US)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseUnder negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
New legislation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Violent targeting of activists

Institutional changes
Strengthening of participation
Development of Alternatives1. There must be a serious and long term investigation of the geological framework, hydrological features of the Brahmaputra basin

2. The question of downstream impacts along the river Brahmaputra must be recognized. Downstream impact assessments must be a pre-condition for all dam proposals.

3. There must be a cumulative impact assessments of all upstream dams in Arunachal Pradesh before clearance is given to construction of dams there.

4. The rights of the people of Assam over these water resources must be recognized by the Government of India

5. immediate tripartite discussion with the Prime Minister of India, Government of Assam and Representative of downstream people of Assam who are agitating against the construction of Lower Subansiri Hydro Power Project.

6. Till all such issues are resolved, KMSS demands a moratorium on construction work of LSHP and other hydro power projects of the Brahmaputra basin [7]
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Chief minister Tarun Gogoi said the Union power ministry has approved the seismic safety recommendations for NHPCs Lower Subansiri hydro-electric project and has appealed to anti-dam agitators to withdraw their protest to pave the way for construction of the dam [5].

Union Minister Jairam Ramesh suggested that work on the Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Power Project is unlikely to be halted. He promised to address the concerns of the downstream States [6]
Sources and Materials

Dams, Displacement, Policy and Law in India
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The Subansiri Subversion
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Lower Subansiri hydel project: Stop all work till critical issues are resolve
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Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project and future of the Subansiri River Ecosystem
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Erosion and devastation of river Subansiri and future downstream

impacts of large dam: a case study from India


Register of Large Dams 2009.pdf
[click to view]


[4] Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project, India
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[6] Subansiri dam work not to be halted: Ramesh
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Subansiri Dam construction will not stop : Ramesh
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Arunachal had warned NHPC on dam project
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Anti–big dam groups fire betrayal salvo at NHPC
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NHPC bid to end Subansiri dam impasse
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Mega dams: campaigning against the plans of the Indian government
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Anti-dam protest gets violent again
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Assam: Medha Patkar leads protests against mega dams
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Mega Dams In North-East India: Are They Necessary?
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[7] Demand for a moratorium on construction work of Lower Subansiri Hydro Power (LSHP) -
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[2] A flood of dams
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Activists Flay Subansiri Power Project
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[1] North East Dams

[3] Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project and future of the Subansiri River Ecosystem by Ranjit Dutta* and Sarada Kanta Sarma

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[5] Gogoi calls for end to anti-Subansiri dam stir
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Media Links

Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project - dam site
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Stop Big Dam in lower subansiri hydroelectric project
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Assam: Protests hit Subansiri hydro-power project
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Subansiri Lower Project
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Subansiri Dam title
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Meta Information
ContributorSwapan Kumar Patra
Last update28/12/2015