The residents of at least 12 Meghalaya village have shown strong opposition to the proposed 210 MW hydroelectric project on Umngot, one of India's clearest rivers. The residents obstructed the public officers to hold a public hearing for the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) project, which was scheduled on April 9 at Moosakhia in West Jaintia Hills district.
On April 8, the Meghalaya Pollution board faced similar resistance at Siangkhnai in the East Khasi Hills district. Hundreds of residents of Umsawwar, Mawsir, Mawdulop, Ksangrngi, Jatah Nonglyer, Jatah Lakadong, Mawlong, Mawjatap and adjoining villages — under the banner of Ka Kynhun Ki Nongrep Harud Wah Umngot — prevented officers of MeECL, MSPCB and the district administration from going to Singkhnai village for the proposed public hearing. The protestors obstructed the officers at Mynsang village, 20 KM away from the venue, by blocking the road since 5 A.M.
The proposed MW project would be built over the Umngot river, between East Khasi Hills district and West Jaiñtia Hills district, at an estimated cost of Rs 1,853 crore in an area of 390 hectares. The dam would connect Mawkynrew with Amlarem by road. However, the villagers fear that their cultivable land would be destroyed due to the project. The villagers, on the other hand, are concerned that the project would ruin their arable land. Residents were concerned that if the dam is constructed, tourism in downstream villages will suffer. The Umngot river attracts many visitors to Dawki, bordering Bangladesh, because of its crystal clear water.
The project is being implemented to close the gap between demand and supply of power and to increase the ratio of hydro and thermal/fossil fuel power generation, according to the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) project report. It states that "the people around the project area are expected to reap many indirect benefits that would bring about a transformation in the uplift of their socio-economic conditions."