Will not budge from village until RR package revised: Chadong villagers

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IMPHAL, 24 July: `We are ready die in our village` said Margaret, a villager of Chadong who has till date resisted being shifted from her village even though the water level submerging the village is rising uninterrupted.

Ever since the dam water of the Mapithel Dam on Thoubal River has been blocked in January this year, water has been seeping slowly and submerging villages.

A mere Rs 14 lakhs compensation for rehabilitation and resettlement does not justify the pains of the villagers, Margaret lamented.

The amount is not enough to buy even a small piece of land, she groaned.

Margaret was speaking to a small team of media persons who had visited Chadong Village yesterday to capture the mournings of the villagers who are being displaced by the rising water.

Chadong Village which had around 1400 villagers is now left with only about 300 who desire to stay back lamenting the RR package of the State government.

To reach the village from the side of Ramrei Village, one has to cross a 4-km stretch of water body in a boat which is propelled by a villager.

From the edge of the water body in Ramrei Village, one can see a view of the Chadong Community hall which seems to be floating on the vast water body.

After more than an hour of rowing, the boat reaches Chadong of which most parts including the school, church and houses are partly submerged.

A yet to be inaugurated school constructed under RMSA is about to be totally submerged. Villagers from the nearby villages are also there trying to help the Chadong villagers dismantle their houses which will soon be submerged and shift to a higher location.

The process is however, made harder by the incessant rain.

An old villager, Achung on being asked about her condition said life cannot be measured with money.

He said they were very happy before the dam with fertile paddy fields and the students attending schools and enough to support their families.

But the dam has changed all equations today, he lamented.

It is a nightmare to even think of the children`™s education, he continued.

Until the demand for a revision of the RR plan is met, they will not leave Chadong Village, he asserted.

During a brief meeting, Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organisation chairman Ks Dominic charged the State government had not notified the villagers about its eviction plan.

Now with the water level already reaching the cattle grazing ground, fields, playground, it wouldn`™t be long before it is fully submerged, he lamented.

He vividly expressed that until amicable solution is not brought, they will not accept any compensation amount from the Government.

He lamented that the recent inspection team led by one Chief Engineer as an expert sanctioned by the National Green Tribunal court only collected information from the government agents and officials and avoided to interact with the affected people.

He said that the government must review and arrange for sustainable survival solutions included in the organisation`™s 26-point demand which also include fishing rights, tourism rights, forest rights etc. Article 21 of Indian Constitution has been totally violated by the government, he maintained.

MDAVO vice chairman Themson Jajo supplementing on the issue said that Mapithel Dam having provision to supply potable water to the Imphal area is funded as loan by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on the agreement that the project do not violate any human rights.

He further said that the construction of Mapithel Dam has violated human rights in multiple ways and if JICA continues to fund the Integrated Water Supply Project (IWSP) will only escalate human rights violation.

Themson said that a memorandum has already been submitted to JICA on February 19 and further to follow up another memorandum will soon be submitted to JICA appealing not to fund such controversial and anti-people project.

Villagers of Thawai also known as Thoyee Village are also affected by the construction of Mapithel Dam said Saka Wonraila as their irrigation fields, the only source of their livelihood is submerged. She said that the State Chief Minister should visit the surrounding villages to see and feel the dismay of the villagers. She blamed the State government which created horrifying situation among the villages residing around the Mapithel Dam.

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