Manipur, IMPHAL, August 29: The Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD) have expressed serious concern over the formation of a Sub Group between the Indian and the Bangladeshi governments for conducting joint surveys to assess the issues of Tipaimukh Dam and to facilitate an early construction of the proposed 1500 MW mega dam over Barak River at Tipaimukh village in Manipur.
According to a statement of the CCDD, “More concerning is the fact that the Sub Group had finalized a Term of Reference (TOR) for assessment of the dam issues on August 28, at New Delhi, where each country is envisaged for assessments in their respective sides”.
The statement further reiterated that the CCDD would like to outline clearly that any decision on the dam construction cannot be bilaterally decided only by India and Bangladesh as the land, rivers, forests and all resources in Manipur belong to all indigenous peoples of Manipur.
It is the rightful rights of the indigenous peoples of the state to participate and be involved in all decision making processes affecting their land, rights and survival is mandatory and is their undeniable rights.
It has further expressed that the government of India is yet to conduct a holistic impact assessment of the proposed dam in Manipur and that the EIA and EMP prepared for proposed Tipaimukh Dam has been criticized widely for misinformation and undermining the rich biodiversity, natural and cultural heritage of Manipur and other social, cultural impacts etc.
The state further lamented that the formation of the sub group between the two countries also excluded the indigenous communities to be affected by the Tipaimukh dam, constituting a complete disregard of the long standing demands of the indigenous peoples to respect their rights over their land and resources and to stop Tipaimukh Dam construction processes without their free, prior and informed consent.
“The UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) had urged upon the Government of India in 2007 and in September 2011 to respect the right to free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples before Tipaimukh Dam construction”, it said before adding that the Sub Group formation without the indigenous communities is disregarding this recommendation from the UN.
Indigenous Peoples of Manipur cannot accept any secretive and compromise deals between the Government of India and Bangladesh for Tipaimukh Dam construction, it continued.
“All affected peoples along Barak River should be rightfully involved in all decision making process on the proposed dam with due recognition of their inherent rights. Till then, the MOU signed between the Government of Manipur, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, the Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited should be revoked”, the statement continued.
Further, the Environmental Clearance granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) of the Government of India should be revoked as affected peoples opposed all the five public hearings and to construction of Tipaimukh Dam, it said.
“Given the extensive forest areas to be submerged to the tune of more than 300 square kilometres of forest areas, and to fell more than Eighty Lakhs trees and subsequent multidimensional impacts, all processes for granting forest clearance should be suspended immediately.”
The recommendations of the World Commission on Dams, UNCERD and the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which recognizes indigenous peoples inherent rights over their land and resources should be fully adhered to in its entirely, the statement concluded.