Guwahati, Thursday, July 11, 2013

Plan to chop off 78 lakh trees for dam opposed
Sobhapati Samom
 IMPHAL, July 10 – NGOs in Northeastern States have opposed the move to chop off 78 lakh trees and 27,000 bamboo groves to facilitate the proposed construction of the controversial 1,500 MW Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project in Manipur.

 Citizens’ Concern for Dams and Development(CCDD) Secretary General Joseph Hmar, speaking to The Assam Tribune after a day-long public consultation of NGOs on ‘Tipaimukh dam and forest clearance’ here yesterday said, “We will not sacrifice such a huge natural resources at the cost of the proposed project”, Joseph was referring to the report recommending chopping off 7.8 million trees and 27,000 bamboos for the construction of the dam at the confluence of Barak and Tuivai rivers at Tipaimukh in Manipur’s Churachandpur district.

The consultation meet was jointly organised by CCDD, Committee on Land and Natural Resources, Committee on the Protection of Natural Resources in Manipur, Action Committee Against Tipaimukh Dam Project and North East Dialogue Forum. The project is being executed as a joint venture of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited and the Manipur Government. The total cost of the project is estimated at Rs 9,211 crore.

Expressing concern over the proposed Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) meeting on July 11-12 to consider “forest clearance” for the project, the Consultation meet resolved that the FAC of MoEF should desist from granting environmental clearance for the proposed project as “this would amount to clear cut violation of the rights of the indigenous people in Manipur”.

“The FAC of the MoEF should refrain from making recommendation for compensatory afforestation as Manipur is a small State with huge pressure on land and forest,” it resolved. “MoEF should revoke the environmental clearance granted for Tipaimukh dam in October 2008 despite the strong ojections by the affected communities in all the five public hearings from 2004 till 2008.”

The Government of India should ensure that the proposed project is not constructed without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples, it further resolved and urged the MoEF to recommend revoking the Memorandum of Understanding signed on April 28, 2010, reaffirmed on October 22, 2011.