Villagers oppose Mapithel dam
Imphal, Nov. 15: The Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organisation, the JAC-Mapithel Dam Affected Downstream People and the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, have objected to chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh's plan to commission the Mapithel dam next month.
In a joint statement today, the three organisations said the dam was being commissioned despite the key infrastructure being incomplete.
The Mapithel dam, initially known as the Thoubal River Valley Multipurpose project, was implemented at Mapithel in Phungyar subdivision of Ukhrul district. The project aims to irrigate 21,000 hectares of land, besides supplying 10 million gallons of drinking water and 7.5MW of power. Construction began in 1989 amid protests from the people of areas likely to be affected by the dam.
Moreover, the government's decision has been taken despite the absence of a comprehensive downstream impact assessment and a plan to rehabilitate people.
The organisations said the dam should not be inaugurated without a comprehensive solution for the communities.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency is yet to confirm if it will finance the water supply project of the dam.
The National Green Tribunal is still considering a petition for violation of forest rights. The statement spoke of the blocking of Thoubal river since January last year, without a detailed impact assessment and rehabilitation and resettlement plan. It spoke of how this has led to enormous hardships for the affected communities.
The dam has led to the inundation of residential areas, schools, churches, agricultural land and forest areas of more than 2,000 hectares at Chadong village, Louphong, Ramrei, Riha and Thoyee villages.
Talking to reporters at the Press Club in Imphal, the chairman of the Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organisation, Dominic Kashung, said the announcement to commission the dam project was a complete mockery.
"The move to commission the dam despite multiple violations manifests the undemocratic and forceful nature of the government and will undermine the rights and interest of the affected people. The government should respect the recent intervention of the Prime Minister's Office and power ministry and also recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteurs on Indigenous Peoples Rights and on housing rights to consider the rights and demands of the affected communities," he said.
The three organisations said the state irrigation and flood control department should desist from commissioning the dam project until and unless the impending issues are resolved.