IMPHAL July 24: Residents of three villages located in the immediate downstream of the Mapithel Dam are scattering for safety due to fear and anxiety after the dam reportedly started leaking.
A team of media persons and representatives of several NGOs accompanied officials of the concern department to visit the dam site and inspect the leakages.
The team was also accompanied by villagers.
The team found that villagers of Itham, Moirangpurel and Tumakhong villages have started evacuating their villages fearing the worst due to the reported leakages.
They are presently sheltered in the neighbouring villages as well in the foothills in the vicinity.
Interacting with the media persons, the villagers groaned they had slept in their trucks, waiting sheds and makeshift shelters.
It is hard for the pregnant women, women with infants, elders and children to sleep in the outside in this pouring monsoon rain, lamented the villagers.
However, there is no sign of returning to our villages until the government intervenes and implore the situation, he continued.
It may be mentioned that during the inspection, tell-tale signs of imperfection on the dam construction could be seen.
It was also interesting to note that despite the in-completion of the dam construction, the authorities have stopped the river water and began filling up the reservoir since January.
According to officials, the base of the dam which is supposed to be 500 meters in width is just 180 meters width (completed part) while at the top it is narrowed down to a mere five meters.
The bordering work of the inside is still ongoing whereas, less than just five meters of the dam is left for the water level to inundate it.
However, EE Mohindro overlooking the inspection said there is no need to panic at the moment.
When asked why the water was block before the completion of the dam he answered, `We are filling according to the capacity of the present progress.`™
Yet there was visible sign of panic and reinforcement on the side of the official side too.
About twenty labourers were seen filling the cement bags with stones and constructing embankment along the inner side of the dam.
The labourers told the media that the work was initiated today.
Suddenly midway during the inspection, we notice the release of water through the dam spillways. The officials informed that the volume/velocity of the water released was more than doubled today since yesterday.
Takhellambam Kaboklei representing the local said, `We have photographic evidence of erosion and loose soil in several parts of the dam and today we have seen leakages.`
For the last few days, the surrounding villagers have been in a panicky situation as the monsoon rains continue, she said.
`We have been surviving without food,` she asserted.
There are several pregnant women and young infants who are scattering in search of safety in the rain, he lamented.
She continued in response to our agitation, the authorities have released the water today.
Our apprehension is that before the completion of the dam they have blocked the water and collected such a huge volume of water, she lamented.
To laypersons like us, this has heightened our apprehension as we had witnessed the tippers filling up earth for the dam in a very loose manner.
We have submitted several memorandums, but the government continues to remain silent, the villager lamented.
Our livelihood based on our access to the river is now transformed to scarcity of water. Our flora and fauna has transformed. The government ought to take such things into cognizance and consider our survival, she continued.