The move of the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) to construct a dam over Umngot river to generate 210 megawatts of power has been met with road blockade as two public hearings organised by the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board were disrupted by protesters.
The first public hearing at Siangkhnai village under Mawkynrew Block in East Khasi Hills district could not be conducted on Thursday after protesters prevented officials including the additional district magistrate at Mynsang village, 20km away from the venue of the public hearing.
The officials could not proceed to Siangkhnai village to conduct the public hearing as villagers sat on the road at Mynsang the whole day from 5 am on Thursday by not allowing any vehicles of the officials to move.
Similarly, at Moosakhia village in West Jaiñtia Hills district, the public hearing could not be conducted on Friday, as it was disrupted by protesters.
The proposed 210 MW Umngot Hydro Electric Project would be built over Umngot river between East Khasi Hills district and West Jaiñtia Hills district.
If the dam is built, it would connect Mawkynrew area with Amlarem area by road.
The villagers especially landowners from villages in East Khasi Hills district opposed the project on the ground that their cultivable land would submerge due to the proposed hydropower project.
However, in West Jaiñtia Hills district, the protesters were from the downstream areas, like Darang, Shnong Pdeng and Dawki.
The villagers said the villages downstream have potential in terms of tourism, but once the dam is built at Umngot river, the beautiful tourist spots would no longer attract the visitors as water in the river would go dry especially in the winter seasons.