IMPHAL, December 14: The Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD) expressed strong condemnation at the ongoing efforts of the Government of Manipur to complete construction of Mapithel Dam of the Thoubal Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project from 10 January 2015 by filling up the portion of dam left for diverting Thoubal River to facilitate dam construction works.
In a press release the CCDD said the move will lead to direct submergence of agriculture land, grazing ground, forest areas of Chadong and other villages, and threaten affected indigenous peoples`™ survival and rights. Entire Chadong Village will be submerged and other villages along Mapithel Range will be affected.
It said the CCDD also seriously considered the deployment and resents reliance on security forces for dam completion works by the Irrigation and Flood Control Department as a clear undemocratic, anti people and anti development process.
This is a direct threat and intimidation to the safety of affected villagers and confirms the undemocratic nature of pursuing development projects in Manipur, the release further said.
The ongoing construction is despite the fact that the National Green Tribunal of the Supreme Court is still considering the violation of Forest Rights under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and the Forest Rights Act, 2006. In clear procedural violations, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Government of India accorded final Stage II Forest Clearance for Mapithel Dam only on 31st December 2013 after more than thirty years of project approval in 1980 without conducting any site visits into affected areas, which is a serious violation, it said.
The fresh construction work is amidst controversial and manipulative rehabilitation and resettlement process that has caused confusion, division and violation of affected indigenous communities`™ rights, it said adding the Rehabilitation and Resettlement is being carried out in a piecemeal and divisive approach.
Beginning from multiple violations of the 1993 Terms of Agreement for Rehabilitation with affected communities, the Government of Manipur failed to conduct a holistic impact assessment as sought by communities under the Expert Review Committee of 2008. The construction of Mapithel Dam is still fraught with the absence of a detailed impact assessment on communities with their rightful participation, especially impacts on forest land and other livelihood sources and further down in the downstream portion of Thoubal River, the release said.
The CCDD urged upon the Government of Manipur to stop Mapithel Dam construction till all rehabilitation process acceptable to all affected communities is fully ensured. All militarization process that support Mapithel Dam construction should halt immediately, it said.
There should be no commissioning of Mapithel dam until the `free prior informed consent` of the affected communities is taken with. The Mapithel dam construction should fully comply with the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams, 2000 and the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007, the CCDD`™s release said.