Shillong: Concerned that the proposed Umngot hydropower project could negatively affect the tourism sector and agricultural activities near the Umngot River, stakeholders in these regions met with Meghalaya’s Chief Deputy Minister to urge him once again to abolish the UHEP.
Members of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) against UHEP have sued the government to abandon this project and so far there has been no assurance from the government.
Showing his support for JAC, Alan West, a renowned entrepreneur in the tourism sector, recalled that before 2013 the tourist season was limited to 6 months from April to September and the rest of the months were considered the dry season since ‘no tourists were there during the dry season.
“But after the 2013 scenario changed, we started receiving tourists during the off-season and only after exploring the Umngot River and with various activities in place. It is clear that the Umngot River has attracted tourists from all over the country, ”said Alan West.
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He added that they did not want to lose any state assets and that touching the Umngot River would be too risky.
Reachingson Kongwang, chairman of Darrang tourism company, said they don’t want to waste their careers in the tourism industry.
He mentioned that a majority in the village, especially unemployed youth and villages adjacent to Umngot, depend on the tourism sector. “If they build a dam, it will have a negative impact. We have no assurance on this issue, but the Deputy Chief Minister said he would take it seriously and try to help us in his capacity and discuss in Cabinet to abandon this project ”, Kongwang added.
The Umngot River, also known as Wah Umngot, is one of the popular tourist spots in Meghalaya due to its crystal clear waters. Many people in the area near the river depend on the tourism generated by the Umngot River. The government-proposed 210 MW Umngot hydropower project faced a backlash after several stakeholders opposed it, fearing its impact on the environment and the famous Umngot River, known for its crystal-clear waters.