Mapithel Dam blockage creates miseries for villagers

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IMPHAL, July 26: The onset of monsoon and subsequent blocking of the Mapithel dam has unfolded more miseries for settlements in both the upstream and downstream area off late.

After engulfing Chadong village, resulting in an involuntary displacement of many household, the Louphung Tangkhul and Nongdam Kuki villages that had already been re-settled on the eastern side of the reservoir has been reportedly asked to shift again to safer places.

In addition to that the villagers at the immediate downstream are spending sleepless night following the seepage from earth dam since the past few days. Fearing that the dam will collapse these villagers had set up relief camps to spend night rather than their homestead.

Louphung Tangkhul and Nongdam Kuki villages were completely displaced in 1991 after payment of mere 3000-10,000 rupees per family.

As an immediate measure, the two villages re-settled nearby the dam site with the help of the authority concerned who reportedly provided GI sheets, tarpaulin etc for the temporary settlements.

Moreover, they were also reportedly assured with maximum rehabilitation package.

However, the villagers strongly felt that they have been betrayed by the Government.

According to Kh Vareingam, village secretary of Louphung, the two villages were amongst the first villages to have been displaced by the construction of the dam and their original location of the villages sits at the bottom of the reservoir.

Despite having re-settled without zero resistance for 24 years they asked to vacate from their places for their settlement areas lies in the sinking zone (about 40-50 metres away from the Dam reservoir).

Moreover, they also deplored the step-motherly treatment meted against with regards to rehabilitation and resettlement packages when compared to other villages which technically is in the list of submerged and displace area.

He said that so far the Government had provided with a little over two lakhs rupees per family as higher relief till 2007 when other villagers under the same category (submerged and displace) are getting over 15 Lakhs rupees under Rehabilitation and Re-settlement package which included enlisting every 18 years of a family as separate family.

`We fully co-operated with the Government and never resisted or confronted since the beginning of the project yet in return they deceived us`, lamented Vareingam.

Other villages included in the list of submerged villages (upstream) included Lamlai Khunou, Lamlai Mongbung, Chadong, Lamali Khullen and Phayang.

Unfortunately, Phayang (having around 23 household) and Lamlai Mongbung (having around 86 household) unlike the other villages could not re-settle and extinct today since the displacement and coupled with the Kuki-Naga ethnic clash.

Leaving aside the disparity in the RR package of the Mapithel dam, many right activists are surprised and questioned by the definition of the affected area under the RR package.

It has been brought to notice that four villages including Maphou Kuki, Nongdam Kuki, Nondam Kuki and Bethelphai villages which have been buried by the earth dam were not provided with any rehabilitation packages as they were not categorised in the list of displace/submerged villages due to the construction of the dam.

Similarly, the settlements in the downstream are also demanding for `Special Economic Rehabilitation Package`.

Meanwhile, to take the stock of the situation a team of AMUCO led by its president Mani Kuman, visited the area and interacted with the villages.

Drawing the attention Government with regards to the plight of the affected villages, the All Manipur United Clubs Organisation (AMUCO) had urged the Cabinet to approve and take up necessary with regards to the grievances of the people within 30 days time.

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