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5 killed as Meghalaya dam overflows

india Updated: Oct 09, 2009 17:07 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times
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Water from an overflowing hydropower project killed five persons in Meghalaya, underscoring the perils of dams in ecologically fragile Northeast.



Officials of the Meghalaya State Electricity Board (MeSEB) on Friday confirmed the death of five workers after water gushed through a tunnel linking the 63-metre high dam of the 126 MW Myntdu-Leshka Hydroelectric Project in Jaintia Hills district of the State. The incident occurred Thursday evening following heavy rain.



Cleared in May 2004 by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, this project undertaken on river Myntdu by MeSEB initially for Rs 363 crore, is expected to be commissioned by December this year.



“We have recovered five bodies from the tunnel. The mishap followed the overflowing of the dam due to heavy rains," said Elias Lyngdoh, chief project manager of Myntdu-Leshka. He added five more workers were still missing, adding the chances of their survival were slim.



Senior MeSEB officials in Shillong said they were trying to get more details of the mishap from the project site.



The hills of the Northeast, notably, are young by geological standards and are prone to landslips. Besides, the region is also highly earthquake-prone. “These are the primary reasons why big dams in the Northeast are a threat to life and environment,” said anti-dam activist Akhil Gogoi.

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