Monday, May 19, 2008


A whole boatload of folks in India are ticked off about the construction of the Mapithel dam which will displace residents of the area. The dam has been under construction off and on since 1980 and since the very beginning the villagers have been demanding adequate rehabilitation and resettlement (RR) measures for them. Negotiations with the government have not been satisfactory at all.

In addition to those concerns are worries about the integrity of the construction already done. Reports that the wall of the Mapithel Dam was beginning to show cracks has alarmed villages despite the official clarification that there were no serious breaches.The villagers are rightly wary of the quality control that has gone into the construction of the dam so far.

In fact, Manipur Assembly Deputy Speaker Thounaojam Shyamkumar told reporters last week that the earthen dam under construction is posing a threat to the people of the area. He cited concern with a 30-metre crack that has appeared.

Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD) joint secretary Jiten Yumnam states that the explanation given by the engineers in connection with the cracks that have already started appearing on the concrete wall of the cliff where the spillway of the dam is being constructed are misleading.

It has been noticed that cracks have also appeared on the area where slope protection have already been done with grasses growing all over the surface.

This shows that no proper testing of the soil had been conducted and the execution of the work was sub-standard, Jiten contended.

The United Naga Council (UNC), All Naga Students Association Manipur (ANSAM), Naga Women Union Manipur (NWUM) and Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) in a joint press statement earlier this month said that they would resist the construction of Mapithel Dam until conducting of proper assessment of environmental impact of the dam.

The organisations also demanded the Government agree to a comprehensive rehabilitation and resettlement policy.

Citizens Concern for Dams and Development Chairman R Kasa said that the insistence of the Government to complete construction of the Mapithel Dam without making necessary arrangements for rehabilitation of the villagers whose houses, paddy fields and source of livelihood would be submerged under water deserved strong condemnation.

He said, the villagers affected by the construction of the dam do not want simple monetary compensation, but a suitable place to live, land to cultivate and other alternate means of livelihood like hunting.

Kasa added until and unless, arrangement for rehabilitation and settlement of the would be affected villagers is assured, construction of the dam would not be allowed.

In case the Government tries to use force, the villagers would not hesitate to lay down their lives for the cause, Kasa said.

The following is from the Sangai Express.

Rally staged against Mapithel dam

Raising strong objection to construction of Mapithel dam, thousands of people took out a protest rally in Ukhrul district headquarters today.

On the other hand, the Tangkhul Naga Long has declared that it would not allow construction of Mapithel dam under any circumstance.

The protest rally was jointly organised by the Naga People's Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR), Tangkhul Naga Long (TNL), Tangkhul Mayar Ngala Long (TMNL) and Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong (TKS) and Tangkhul Shanao Long (TSL).

The protest rally which was also participated by a large number of students terminated at TNL ground where a public meeting was held.

All along the rally, the protesters shouted various slogans against construction of Mapithel dam.

Showing solidarity to the protest rally, all the shops and markets of Ukhrul district Hqs remained closed and taxi service was also suspended.

However, there was no disruption to Imphal-Ukhrul bus service and functioning of Government offices.

Addressing the meeting, director of the New Delhi based Inter-Cultural Resources Smitu Kothari asserted since the country gained independence, the Government has displaced more than 50 million people in the name of development.

Out of these, construction of dams accounted for displacement of two crore people.

Quoting a survey report conducted by Government agencies, Smitu Kothari said that the cost of living for 77 percent of the total population of India is just Rs 20 per day.

This shows that several lakhs of people have not been rehabilitated yet.

The development trend of India as observed in the last 15 years is marked by creation of special economic zones and selling out of the country's land and resources to multi national companies in the name of development projects, Kothari remarked.

Mapithel dam is also one such project and this is a threat to the people, Kothari said.

Later briefing media persons, TNL president Stephen Angkang asserted that the dam construction will not be allowed under any circumstances.

Observing that the Government has failed to fulfil any of the assurance it gave to the people, Stephen asserted that the people has no other option but to prevent construction of the dam.

TKS president PR Jordan dam affected people raised several demands to the Government.

But the State rather addressing the demands, declared that the anti-dam protesters were trouble-makers.

This is humiliating, he said.

On being asked whether dam construction should be allowed to proceed after the project is reviewed and resettlement and rehabilitation programmes have been taken up, he informed that people will not provide such option to the Government.

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