CCDD condemns forest clearance of dam

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IMPHAL, January 10: The Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD) has expressed strong condemnation with the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), for conceding final Stage II Forest Clearance for Mapithel Dam in Manipur on December 31, 2013.

In a press statement, the group said that it is highly unfortunate that the MoEF conceded both Stage I and Stage II “Forest Clearances” without conducting any site visits at the affected areas and without full adherence to Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA, 2006) and undermining its instructions issued to the Government of Manipur on August 23, 2013 to comply FRA, 2006 before Stage II Forest Clearance.

The CCDD would also like to condemn the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA), for according highly objectionable `exemptions` to the application of “Forest Rights Act, 2006” in the case of Mapithel Dam construction, under which there is mandatory requirement for taking consent of the traditional institutions of the affected communities. The act of Tribal Ministry is one of double standard and discrimination against the

indigenous tribal peoples of Manipur. For instance, while the ministry vouched for FRA,2006 compliance in Vedanta Mining case in Orissa to protect the tribal communities, the same Tribal Ministry interestingly exempted the application of FRA, 2006 in the case of Mapithel dam in Manipur.

The conclusion of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs that the 19 June 1993 Memorandum of Agreed Terms and Conditions for Rehabilitation and Resettlement Programme for the Mapithel dam affected villagers as adhering to the “spirit of the law (Forest Rights Act, 2006)” is a premature decision bereft of any sensitivity to the actual violations of the said 1993 agreements, the violations of which compelled the Government of Manipur to set up the Expert Review Committee in January 2008. The MoTA`s observation is unacceptable as the ministry did not undertake any verification for compliance and violations in Manipur.

The two contrasting letters of the MoTA to MoEF on Mapithel Dam, one on November 26, 2013 and another on December 18, 2013 exposed the practices of adhochism in the functioning of the Ministry and the true intents of the Tribal Ministry to discriminate and violate the rights of tribal people of Manipur. CCDD expresses our surprise that the Tribal Ministry, which should actually be promoting the interest of the tribal people is actually taking steps to cause their complete displacement from their land and annihilate them. The ministry with its recommendations not to implement FRA, 2006 in the case of Mapithel dam had already set a very bad precedent, of disrespect and discrimination of tribal peoples in Manipur and North East in general, the statement said.

The CCCD would like urge upon the Ministry of Environment and Forest to revoke the Stage II Forest Clearance for Mapithel Dam on December 31, 2013. The Ministry of

Tribal Affairs should also revoke its letter to the MOEF on December 18, 2013 not to apply Forest Rights Act, 2006 for Mapithel dam and rather should recommend to comply Forest Rights Act, 2006 and to take the consent of traditional bodies of communities affected. The Manipur Government should stop Mapithel Dam construction till the free prior and informed consent of all affected communities, the statement said.

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