Dam affected locals refute NEEPCO chairman’s statement

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IMPHAL, July 15: Expressing concern over a recent statement of the new chairman-cum-managing director of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd, NEEPCO, the Sinlung Indigenous Peoples Rights Organisation, SIPHRO has stated that the government`s plan to forcefully go ahead with the proposed 1500 MW Tipaimukh Dam project despite objections from the peoples clearly reflects the insensitivity and indifference of the government and NEEPCO on the issue of environmental justice and sustainable development of the indigenous peoples in the region.
Further expressing its concern over the statement of the chairmen who alleged that environmentalists and NGOs are misleading the people, it has counter-charged that it is the government and NEEPCO who are misleading the public on the proposed destructive project.
A statement of the organization sent out in this connection has maintained that insensitivity and indifference of the government and NEEPCO are absolutely inhumane, undemocratic and unconstitutional. The peaceful co-existence and survival of the indigenous peoples who, otherwise, are marginalised, with their rivers, land and natural resources is more important than the loose wagging tongue and blind adventurism of a career-minded CMD, who is foreign to us, our land and rivers, our lives and our survival prospects, it has added.
Maintaining that a dictated and imposed project will forever stand against the intent and spirit of any democracy it has also added that the indigenous peoples who will be directly and indirectly affected by the Tipaimukh Dam project are already left out and marginalized by the proposed project. As a result, they are unaware of the adverse impacts the project would have on them.
It has also alleged that the democratic process for delivering “free, prior and informed consent” was totally absent. Moreover, there is no “active, free and meaningful” participation from the public, it added.
While elaborating that there is no identification of the people who would be affected by the project the statement has further stated that monetary compensation was employed by the implementing agencies and dam builders as a method to win the consent and approval of the indigenous peoples in their pursuit to build the dam.
It has also alleged that there is nothing about the proposed project which is transparent or made accessible to the public.
The project is absent of any social assessment process.
It has also added that the adverse impacts of the Tipaimukh Dam project, whether short term or cumulative, have been seriously under-estimated and added that monetary compensation should never be employed to reduce and alienate the indigenous peoples from their land, rivers and natural resources.
The SIPHRO has further reiterated that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) inked between NHPC, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVN) and the Manipur government is without the knowledge, consent, confidence, and approval of the Hmar people and as such should be declared null, void and invalid.
The government and the implementing agencies ought to immediately and comprehensively adopt the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams (WCD), it added.

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