Meghalaya | Umngot Hydel project: Power minister allays tourism & environmental concerns
Meghalaya Power Minister James Sangma on Wednesday allayed concerns relating to the proposed construction of the 210 MW Umngot Hydro-Electric Project in West Jaintia Hills.
Sangma said concerns that the project will change the landscape and impact tourism in the area are “unfounded”.
“I think that the kind of concerns that are there are unfounded. I believe that because it (project) is so far away from that particular place. It will have no impact on that area,” he said.
Residents of several villages in East Khasi Hills and West Jaintia Hills have been staging protests against the hydropower project at Umngot, stating that the same will impact the environment and the ecosystem.
According to the residents, they worry that the project would cripple tourism in Shnongpdeng, Dawki, and adjoining areas. The tourist destination that gained its fame owing to the crystal clear Umngot river has been drawing tourists from far and wide over the past few years.
Stating that the government understands that many people depend on tourism for their livelihood, Sangma, who is also the Forest & Environment Minister, maintained that the Umngot project dam site is at a considerable distance from the tourist spots and, there will be no impact on that area.
“It is with a sense of responsibility that I say we understand that livelihood depends a lot on maintaining that same kind of pristine nature of that place. Because the Umngot project dam site is at a considerable distance, there will be no sort of impact in that area,” he said.
He also said the State Government would consult with all the stakeholders, “not just to allay their fears but also to encourage them to support such kinds of projects.”
“Today, we are facing an acute shortage of power and, the Umngot project is very viable. It will be very beneficial for the state, not just in power generation but many other aspects,” he reasoned.
“We will be consulting with the stakeholders and, we want to take along everyone for this matter,” he added.
(Edited by Ibankyntiew Mawrie)