Imphal, Sept. 26: A group of villagers in Manipur has thanked the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for intervening to thwart the state government's plan to commission the Mapithel dam on the Thoubal river in Ukhrul district.
The Mapithel Dam-Affected Villagers' Organisation, Housing and Land Rights Network and Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, had sent repeated complaints to the PMO on this matter.
Talking to reporters at Manipur Press Club here, Dominic Kashung, chairman of the Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organisation, said, "The blocking of the Thoubal river since January 2015 has submerged all the paddy fields in our village."
The construction of the project, which began in 1990, has led to inundation of residential areas, schools, churches, agricultural lands and forests in several villages.
Kashung said the state government announced inauguration of the dam in September before taking any steps to compensate the affected people. Besides, construction of power house and tunnel for releasing water is not complete and that of irrigation canal is yet to begin. The water pipeline is not ready. The National Green Tribunal considers the dam a violation of the forest laws.
The village organisations demanded immediate release of the impounded water from the dam reservoir.
Former United Nations special rapporteur, Miloon Kothari, said, "I am shocked at the treatment of the affected people by the state government. People are starving and have lost their livelihood. There is a great deal of corruption not only in the Mapithel dam but also in other development projects. The intervention by the PMO at this juncture is welcome."
Housing and Land Rights Network director Shivani Choudhury said, "There has been no comprehensive impact assessment, neither on the environment nor on social or economic consequences. There has been no consultantion with the people, the forest law has been violated, and stay orders of Manipur High Court have been violated."