Haflong: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday underscored the need for augmented and effective power generation and distribution, asserting that these are as integral to economic growth as blood donation is to saving lives.
Performing ”bhoomi pujan” (groundbreaking ceremony) for a 120-MW hydroelectric project in Assam’s Dima Hasao district, she asserted that it will not just usher in development in the area, but be of benefit to entire northeast.
The Centre and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) inked a USD 23.1-crore loan in December 2020 to augment power generation capacity in Assam through the construction of the Lower Kopili plant at Longku in Dima Hasao.
Sitharaman gave assurance that the Union government “will procure more funds from abroad, if necessary, by giving its guarantee” for the successful completion of the project, to be developed by Assam Power Generation Corporation Ltd.
Effective power generation and its distribution “are integral to the economy as blood donation is to saving lives. The 120 MW plant will not just bring about development in the district but the whole of northeast,” she maintained.
The Union minister also laid the foundation for upgrading a 90-km road, connecting Haflong Tinali with Lower Haflong.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, speaking on the occasion, said this “run-of-the-river project over Kopili will help increase electricity generation from clean energy by 469 gigawatt hour (GWh) by 2025”, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions annually.
“Affordable and clean electricity generated through the project will greatly improve quality of living, promote businesses and increase employment opportunities in the state,” he noted.
Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sitharaman for helping Assam with externally aided schemes, he said that the Centre has provided Rs 1,700 crore of the estimated project cost of Rs 2,200 crore.
Sarma stated that earnings from the project will be fully utilised for Dima Hasao”s development.
The state government, in the next nine months, will spend Rs 900 crore for building roads in Dima Hasao and Rs 250 crore for construction of Umrongso-Lanka thoroughfare, the CM added.
Sitharaman later launched a RTPS (Right to Public Services) portal here, and said that the Centre has approved the construction of a four-lane bridge, spanning three kilometres, on Brahmaputra river in Kamrup district, to be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 3,094 crore.
The bridge will facilitate direct connectivity between the internationally renowned silk town of Sualkuchi and the industrial region of Amingaon with Guwahati and the international airport, she pointed out.
It will also decongest the roads of Guwahati, thus cutting down travel time for daily commuters who come from the adjoining districts of Nalbari and Barpeta, she said.
Both Sitharaman and Sarma, during the day, jointly inspected the work being undertaken to build another six-lane extradosed bridge over the Brahmaputra river, connecting Guwahati and North Guwahati near Sonaram High School field.
Funded by New Development Bank, the 8.4-km-long bridge, to be constructed by state PWD (Roads) at an estimated cost of Rs 2,608 crore, will be the “first of its kind” in northeast, according to an official statement.
The PM had laid the foundation stone of the bridge on February 9, 2019 and it is expected to be completed by August 2023.
The iconic bridge, once completed, will significantly ease traffic, besides facilitating safe and smooth movement of people across the river, the statement added.
Referring to the RTPS portal, the Union minister stated that it would improve delivery of select public services in Assam, and lauded the state government for the initiative.
“It is very impressive to see the pace at which the developmental projects are moving in the state,” she said and appreciated the Sarma-led dispensation for its “holistic and inclusive approach” for the growth of Assam.
The finance minister further inaugurated the excise and tax portal of Assam, set up as part of a project funded by the World Bank.
This project will also benefit the citizens through better service delivery provided by public institutions, the she noted. PTI