COPE boycotts meeting on major dam projects in NE

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IMPHAL, Sep 9: The Committee on Peoples and Environment (COPE), Silchar, Assam has boycotted the proposed meeting on major dam projects in the North Eastern Region to be held at Guwahati, chaired by the Forest and Environment Minister, Jayram Ramesh.

A three member team of the COPE, has been camping in the state in connection with the Tipaimukh down stream issue. The team led by its General Secretary, Pijush Kanti Das along with Jishnu Dutta, vice chairman and S. Herajit Singha, organization, also submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Manipur today requesting the Manipur Government to cancel the MOU singed with NHPC SJVN on construction of Tipaimukh Dam, for the sake of the people of Manipur, Assam, Mizoram and Bangladesh.

A press conference was held today at the Manipur press club, where in they informed that the COPE an apex body of about 38 local organizations and people of the barak valley, has boycotted the proposed meeting to be held at Guwahati. The meeting will be chaired by the Forest and Environment Minister, Jayram Ramesh. The purpose of the said meeting was to discuss about the impact of major Dam project in the NE region.

According to Piyush Kanti Das, the general secretary of the COPE, the Tipaimukh project in any way will not benefit the people of Manipur, Assam, Mizoram or Bangladesh. About 38 lakhs peoples, most of them farmers, fishermen and labourer living in the downstream of the Dam will be affected.

In the memorandum, the COPE mentioned that the after the commissioning of the Loktak project the water release of the project in the water network of Barak, flood has become a regular phenomenon in Brak Valley. The clandestine trespass of water into Barak is the real cause behind regular flood in the valley. It said that the Loktak Authority never announced the release of water catchment area into the barak and the people of Barak valley have reason to apprehend conspiracy behind the whole matter and demand immediate closure of the release of the Loktake water into Barak.

The memorandum also mentioned about apprehension that the rock filled 390 meters long and 162.8 meters high dam (top level of the dam 181.8 meters) to be constructed at the earthquake zone-V, wherein there will be constant pressure of water, if for any reason cracks, the entire civilization of the whole downstream will be washed down in time resulting in the age old Barak-Surma culture to live in history only.

Besides that it said that burning issues, other important impact like water scarcity, crop cultivation, navigation, siltation, ecological imbalance river pollution, extinction of aquatic life forms and the like are never the less important frontier areas that deserve careful and serious attention, before construction of the dam.

It said that Government of Manipur has signed a memorandum of understanding with NHPC, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd. (SJVN) for construction of Tipaimukh dam but it maintained that the project, especially Tipaimukh will never being any benefit for the people of Manipur and it is sure to spell disaster for the forest wild life and environment in the up and downstream from Tipaimukh and will bring devastation for the people of both Manipur and Barak Valley and even for Bangladesh.

The memorandum also claimed that the Government of Manipur, Assam, NEEPCO or NHPC never took any public consent in the downstream and never made any survey in the downstream impacts. It said the said project is entirely against the people both in the upstream and downstream and request the state Government to cancel the MoU for the sake of the people of Manipur, Assam, Mizoram and Bangladesh.

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