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Tipaimukh deal struck 'silently': report

Saturday, November 19, 2011

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
Dhaka, Nov 19 ( Manipur's government has secretly struck an investment deal with a number of state-run organisations for setting up the controversial hydroelectric power plant and Tipaimukh dam on India's Borak River.

BBC said in a report that the agreement was signed on Oct 22 between the State Government of Manipur and hydro developers Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd and NHPC (formerly known as the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited) at New Delhi under major wraps.

The deal would see the setting up of a joint company, which will be responsible for the construction of the dam and the power plant, the report said.

The proposed project has sparked debates in Bangladesh after India took initiative to build the dam. Experts and rights activists have said Bangladesh would be adversely affected if the dam is built upstream. Even in the State of Manipur, rights groups have been campaigning against the scheme for years and demanded the government scrap the plan.

In Bangladesh, various political parties and environmentalists have taken firm stand against the plan, and a parliamentary team briefly went to Manipur in 2009 to have an idea about plant site. But the helicopter carrying the team had failed to land at Tipaimukh due to bad weather.

The raging debate and concerns by the citizens' groups and media have led Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh to assure in a joint declaration that India shall not take any steps, regarding Tipaimukh, that might adversely affect neighbouring Bangladesh, during Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India in 2009., a website catering to the hydroelectricity industry, said that the deal had been signed and that the agreement states that NHPC will own 69 percent of the company, SJVN will own 26 percent and the Manipur government will own five percent.

BBC quoted Manipur government's irrigation and flood control minister N Biren Singh as saying, "The government's policy is very clear, the Tipaimukh project shall be implemented. It will be funded with aid from the central government, specially the Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER)."

Biren also told BBC that the state government is also contacting the Indian prime minister Mahmohan Singh to make him declare the project as 'a national project' of India.

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