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NHPC hiding facts: Khataniar

GUWAHATI, February 19 (TAT): Noted consultant engineer J N Khataniar on Saturday alleged that the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) has been hiding facts on the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project (LSHEP) as far as the structure of the dam is concerned. The recent NHPC assertions made through newspaper advertisements on the dam is misleading, as it has tried to hide facts.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Khataniar also asserted that the expertise of the NHPC in constructing hydel power projects in the seismically sensitive and geologically fragile zones is also doubtful. The NHPC had built the 60-MW Kurichu Hydroelectric Power Project in Bhutan, which created havoc in the three Assam districts of Barpeta, Chirang and Bongaigaon in 2004, he said.
The Kurichu project comprised a 56 metre-high concrete dam and a surface power house at the foot of the dam with an installed capacity of four generating units each of 15 MW, said Khataniar.
He said the argument of the NHPC authorities that numbers of mega dams have been constructed and are operational in geological conditions similar to those of the LSHEP and they are taller than the LSHEP dam, is baseless. The projects— Bhakra (226 metre-high), Ranjit Sagar (160 metre), Kaligarh (125 metre) and Mangala (116 metre) — named by the NHPC in this connection, are rock-fill dams and are multipurpose projects.
But the LSHEP has been provided with a concrete gravity dam and it is a monotype project with the provision of generating power.
In this respect, Khataniar referred to the statement made by the internationally acclaimed expert in seismic engineering Dr D K Paul of IIT, Roorkee, in his presentation at a Gauhati University Post-Graduate Students’ Union (GUPGSU) Ex-General Secretaries’ Forum organised seminar on October 8, 2010. Dr Paul had said the rock-fill dams are highly resistant to seismic loads.
Many rock-fill dams have been constructed in high seismic areas. Many of them withstood large earthquakes without significant damages. No rock-fill dam designed and constructed on the basis of modern technology has ever failed under the impact of earthquake. This is due to their abilities to deform and absorb energy, Dr Paul said.
In the case of the LSHEP, the NHPC has ignored the recommendations of the Brahmaputra Board for construction of rock-fill dam. The Brahmaputra Board further suggested construction of an underground power house considering the geological condition of the site after extensive investigations and studies carried out by it together with the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and the Central Water Commission (CWC) in 1983. It also suggested the Lower Subansiri Project as a multipurpose one. But the NHPC has ignored all these suggestions, Khataniar said.
He also called for re-investigation and re-designing of all the proposed and underconstruction hydel projects in the NE region by maintaining transparency at all levels.

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