CHANDEL, July 16: The Chandel Naga bodies in Chandel including CNPO, NWUC and NSUC in a letter addressed to the Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Jual urged the minister to decommission Mapithel Dam, a component of Thoubal Multipurpose Project in Manipur to safeguard the rights of the Tribal indigenous peoples.
The bodies in the letter which was sent through the deputy commissioner of Chandel stated that Mapithel dam which was approved by the planning commission in 1980 without the knowledge of the people would affect more than 8000 tribal spread across 22 villages would be affected and 1215 hactres of land in Senapati and Ukhrul district would be submerged if the dam is commissioned.
Calling `urgency to save lives of affected Chadong villagers who have been resisting and protesting against the construction of dam, the Naga bodies has called for intervention of the union Minister to take immediate actions to stop militarization using security forces to suppress resistance against the Mapithel dam and decommission the Mapithel dam.
`The project violates the rights of the tribal communities over their ancestral land and forest and also violates the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006`™ it said.
The first stage clearance for the project was granted by MoEF only in 2010, However, construction of the dam began in 1989 without obtaining the required forest clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).
The Naga bodies also stated even though MoEF accorded the final stage II Forest clearance for Mapithel Dam, it did so without conducting any visit to assess the site and affected areas.
Blocking Thoubal river and filling up of the Mapithel Dam Reservoir by the State Irrigation and Flood Control department since January 2015 without completing mandatory impact assessment and obtaining clearance from respective authorities has already submerged many homes of Chadong village in addition to the large tracts of agricultural alnd, grazing grounds, and forest areas of Louphong, Chadong, lamlai Khullen, Lamlai Khunou, Riha and other villages along the Mapithel Hill Range.
The ongoing move to complete the Mapithel dam construction also entails a controversial and manipulative rehabilitation and resettlement process that has been coerced on the people causing confusion and division amongst the affected people.
The government of Manipur has acknowledged the failure of the agreement on Rehabilitation and Resettlement in 1993 and constituted an expert Review Committee (ERC) on 18 January 2008. However the government withdrew from ERC process after seven rounds of talks in February 2011. Following that the government of Manipur began verification at Lalai Khunou and Chadong villages from 29 October 2012, forcibly and arbitrarily, using security forces to silence the objection, it charged.