Locals decry land acquisition for rail project

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IMPHAL, July 8 (NNN): Railway is reaching Imphal in the next few years’ time but the people of Yurembam locality in Imphal West district are spending sleepless night gripping with apprehension that their locality will be wiped out by the government to construct a railway station.

On two occasions in the past, parts of their locality were acquired by the government to build power projects. But today, the local people Yurembam have pledged never to give in to the government this time.

Yurembam is a village since 663 AD and is 6 km from Imphal. It occupies around 6 Sq.km in area and is surrounded by Changangei and Tabungkhok(East) , Patsoi(North), Malom and Bamdhiar( South), Sagoltongba and Konthoujam(West). The village is inhabited by the Meiteis and Kabui Nagas.

People of Yurembam faced three times acquisition of land already. The first time was about 40 years back for establishment of 132 K.V. Power Sub-Station, Yurembam with Store Division of Govt. of Manipur. The second about 20 years back for establishment of Power Station of NEEPCO, Ltd and the third time was in the year 2010 for expansion of 400 K.V. power plant of the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. In those three acquisitions, there were prolonged agitation in the effort of preventing forcible acquisition.

Yet again, the Government of India and Manipur is targeting to acquire huge area in Yurembam for the construction of Trans Asian Railway line and station, and this has caused great fear, restlessness, shock, sleeplessness, irritation, infuriation to all the villagers as with this it certain that the village will be no more. We have collectively decided that we will no more give our land for any other purpose.

“From our previous experiences, we have learnt that issue of forcible land acquisition for what is known as public purpose, compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement are but bitter experiences for those who lost their ancestral land. Who can replace our homes, agricultural land, spiritual and cultural sites, our community play grounds and grazing areas of our cows? While we will never part our land, but then we also know our lands will be taken away when we cannot fight the mighty state. And the only thing to fall back is a ‘good’ Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy,” said the Joint Action Committee against the construction of railway station in Yurembam.

The JAC said that while appreciating that the government of Manipur came up with the Draft Rules of “The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013” we know that this is inadequate for those affected.

“First of all, English is not our language and most of us do not understand it properly for us to be able to comment on it. This will be true for most people in Manipur. One month is too little a time for affected people like us to give feedback. If the government is really keen to get real experience feedback then they must translate it to our local language and extend the comment period for another three months. We will also urge the government to conduct some kind of public consultations so that we can provide official inputs to the Draft,” the JAC stated.

 

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