Imphal, Dec. 14: Four non-governmental organisations of Manipur have called a 24-hour state bandh from 6 pm tomorrow in protest against the government’s decision to lay the foundation stone of the Tipaimukh multipurpose dam project on Saturday.
These organisations include the Action Committee Against Tipaimukh Project, which is spearheading the anti-dam movement, the Zeliangrong Union and the Committee Against Construction of Tipaimukh Dam.
Speaking about the bandh call, leaders of the Action Committee Against Tipaimukh Project scotched reports that the forest and environment ministry had given the green signal to the project. They said their sources in New Delhi had confirmed that no such clearance was given till yesterday.
However, the authorities are going ahead with their preparations for the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the project, to be built on the Barak in Churachandpur district of Manipur, which shares its borders with Assam and Mizoram.
Imphal-based officials of the public sector North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (Neepco), which has been entrusted with the task of setting up this mammoth project, have already reached the project site to complete arrangements for the programme.
State government officials from here and Churachandpur district headquarters also left for the project site today.
Union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Union heavy industries minister Sontosh Mohan Dev are scheduled to travel from Aizawl to lay the foundation stone.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was supposed to lay the foundation stone during his daylong visit here on December 2, had announced that two Union ministers would perform the ceremony before Christmas.
This had evoked angry reactions from the anti-dam lobby in Manipur.
To ensure smooth conduct of the programme, the Okram Ibobi Singh government is keeping the matter under wraps though the programme has been finalised.
No official invitation for the function was issued to the media here till this afternoon. The state information department said it did not have any information on the programme.
An official source said the government was maintaining silence considering the sentiments of the anti-dam lobby. He, however, confirmed that the two Union ministers would lay the foundation stone on Saturday.
In a related development, two social activists from Tamenglong — likely to be the most affected by the project — today jointly filed a petition challenging the proceedings of the public hearing held at the office of deputy commissioner of Tamenglong district last month in connection with the project.
The government has arranged for the holding of the public hearing to elicit opinions on the construction of the controversial project. The petition, however, claimed that the hearing was not held openly and only a few people were allowed to participate.