IMPHAL, Sept 4 – Expressing serious concern over the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) for taking up four Hydroelectric Power Projects in Manipur on August 28, the Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD), a Manipur-based NGO, has demanded repeal of the MoU in the interest of the indigenous population.
CCDD also demanded repeal of the Manipur Hydroelectric Policy, 2012, as it only aimed to further serve the corporate interest to maximise profits from the exploitation and destruction of land and resources.
“The free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples as outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 and the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams in 2000 are fully complied too for all development and dam building plans in Manipur,” said CCDD co-chairperson Aram Pamei in a press release. “The Government should promote a comprehensive Energy Policy that encompasses the most feasible alternate energy solutions in Manipur.”
The signing of the four power projects, namely the 60 MW Irang, 51 MW Tuivai, 67 MW Khongnem Chakha and 190 MW Pabram projects, as part of the larger dam building plans over rivers of Manipur under the Manipur Hydroelectric Power Policy, 2012, is another attempt of the Government to further destruct peoples livelihood and survival sources, alleged Aram Pamei. The plan to build these dams is fraught with absence of consultation and taking the free, prior and informed consent of communities to be affected by such mega dam projects.
Expressing concern over the authority’s failure to assess and learn the multi-faceted adverse impacts of dams commissioned in Manipur, she said, the Ithai Barrage of Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project has already devastated the Loktak Wetlands ecosystem and destroyed the livelihood sources of fisherfolk and farmers of Manipur by submerging more than 80,000 acres of farmland.
The ongoing Mapithel dam construction will destroy more than 1000 hectares of agriculture land and forest in Mapithel hill range, she added. The proposed 1500 MW Tipaimukh Dam will also submerge more than 27,000 hectares of forest land, while displacing several thousands of people, according to CCDD.
The existing dams in Manipur are functioning in under- performing stage. The Khuga dam, which intends to generate 1.5 MW and to provide irrigation to 15,000 hectares of agricultural land in Churachandpur district, has long failed to generate a single unit of power, the release claimed. The 750 KW power generating unit of Singda Dam lies rusted, failing to generate a single unit of power since its commissioning. A serious question which emanates from an introspection of underperforming dams in Manipur is why indigenous peoples of Manipur should sacrifice their land, forest and other survival sources for such unsustainable projects, it questioned.