Monsoon brings more hardships to Mapithel Dam affected villages

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IMPHAL, 16 July: The onset of monsoon has only augmented to the dangers of the villages in the vicinity of the Mapithel Dam constructed on Thoubal River.

Regular rains in the past few days have drastically increased the water level of the dam thereby increasing the danger of submerging the villages.

While, people living upstream fear of being submerged under water, those in the downstream areas complain of losing their livelihoods which depend on the river.

The dam gate was closed down in January this year and since then there has been numerous agitations and resentment from people of both upstream and downstream demanding stopping the dam construction but to no avail.

A public meeting was held today organised by the Mapithel Dam Affected Villages Organisation,Centre of Research Advocacy Manipur, Campaign for Peoples`™ Goals for Sustainable Development and IPMDL at the point where the expanding water body due to the closing of the dam gate meet the paddy fields of Riha Village.

MDAVO president Dominic said the people of Riha, Khuman Chihui are dependent on the river for their irrigation and the government compensation for affected families are provided only to families whose house would be submerged.

Now their paddy fields have been submerged which amounts to taking away their livelihood, he claimed.

Elaborating on the negative social impact of the dam, he said the disheartened villagers could turn to becoming thieves, drug addiction and even to the extent of becoming prostitutes.

A local social worker from Thawai Village M Wonmi said the construction of the dam is even worse than the CrPC 144 and robbed the people of all basic human amenities.

Construction of the Mapithel Dam was approved in 1980 without forest clearance approval under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and it was acquired more than 30 years later only in December 2013 owing to much public outcry, however, a case is still pending with the Green Tribunal, Kolkatta, he said.

He said on July 6, during a case hearing, the Green Tribunal had initiated the sanctioning of a chief engineer level official to investigate and look into the grievances of both the upstream and downstream inhabitants.

He continued that the dams in the State have all failed to serve their purposes like generating power and provide irrigation for the farmers, in fact more villagers are displaced by the dams so far.

CORH chairman Phulendro Konsam said there is a need for a united voice to be raised for the government to hear.

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