My Journey from Daporijo to Gerukamukh, Lower Subansiri Dam
We started our journey from Guwahati on the 19th of March and travelled through the north bank of the Brahmaputra River, right up to a place called Daporijo in Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh, covering a distance of 741 kms in 22 hours. Daporijo is situated on the banks of river Subansiri and this was the actual beginning point of our real journey! For 5 nights and 6 days, we coursed down from Daporijo to Gerukamukh in the Assam- Arunachal border. The distance by road from our launch point Daporijo to Gerukamukh is 260 kms but if you take the Subansiri river, it is no more than 65 kms.
Subansiri is the largest tributary of the Brahmaputra and the second largest river in Assam. After flowing 200 kms from Tibet, it enters India and continues its journey through the Himalayas of India for 190 km and then enters the plains of Assam through a gorge near Gerukamukh, the point where we ended our journey. I must admit that after 6 days of tranquility with absolutely no trace of human abodes, the sight of the monstrous dam hit me really hard. Most of us have seen photos of the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Dam, ever since it made it to the news back in 2010, but nothing prepares you for the real thing. It is hard to fathom that something this huge is built by man and even harder to believe that it can be controlled.
The construction of the Subansiri Lower Dam, officially named Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project (SLHEP), began in 2005 and was expected to be completed by 2015. The 2000 MW project has experienced several problems during construction including landslides, redesign and stiff opposition. It now expected to be complete by 2018. It is notable that, if completed as planned, it will be the largest hydroelectric project in India. But at what cost that? Besides the obvious pros, what are the cons?
According to experts, it is estimated that on completion, the Subansiri reservoir will submerge a 47 km (29 mi) length of the Subansiri River and occupy 37.5–40 square km of Himalayan sub-tropical pine forests and sub-tropical broadleaf forests which is part of the Tale Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, two elephant corridors and some agricultural land. According to the official data by NHPC, only eight families have been displaced. Nobody wants to talk about the downstream effects once the dam is operational. What will happen when there will be very low water release in the dry months of winter and very high water release during the summer when the energy will be generated? I feel the line is too thin in this case and I guess we’ll just have to wait and see and hope for the best consequences.