Third UPR review of India: Implications for Manipur

By Jiten Yumnam

The Imphal Free Press, 24 September 2017

http://www.ifp.co.in/article/item/3818-third-upr-review-of-india-implications-for-manipur

The adoption session on the recommendations of the Third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of India for implementation of its international human rights obligations at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on 21st September 2017 at Geneva is yet another occasion that questioned India’s assertion as the largest democratic nation in the world. The review is a litmus test if the Government of India will ever respect the recommendations of member states of the UN to uphold intrinsic fundamental rights and freedom, inherent traits of a democratic society. As the entire UPR review process involves incorporating the voices of human rights organizations, the review process is a unique occasion to enhance and indeed prove the democratic nature of the Indian State by incorporating civil society views, concerns and suggestions for a more democratic society. India opted to prove otherwise on advancing human rights.

Earlier, India’s human rights record reviewed on 4 May 2017 at the UNHRC had Indian Government delegates receiving 250 recommendations from UN members states on a range of issues, including the need for India to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) as well as the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA) and to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and to end all forms of violence against women and discrimination against minorities and marginalized communities.

In the last UPR review of India, countries like Switzerland, the United States of America and Estonia etc raised concerns with the arbitration of human rights principles in places in Manipur, especially extra judicial executions, arbitrary detentions, torture etc and the continued lack of accountability of the armed forces for the violations in the recent UPR review of India. Slovakia indeed called for repeal of the AFSPA, 1958 in the last UPR in 2012, while Switzerland recommended for review of the Act for full compliance with international human rights standards, which means all derogation of fundamental human rights like “Right to Life”, “Right to Justice Remedy” and also the arbitrary declaration of “disturbed area” or a State of Emergency” without informing the rest of the world need be revoked.

India accepted most of the general recommendations, a little bit more than 260 recommendations related to economic, social and cultural rights, such as right to health, education, promoting sustainable development goals, promotion of women’s and child rights etc in the Third UPR review, but most of the recommendations around ending impunity, access to Justice, protection of Human Rights defenders and on indigenous peoples rights remains unaccepted. India has consciously chosen to reject the recommendations around the continued application of emergency laws and call to end militarization and subsequent human rights violations. It is highly concerning that the Government of India refuse to repeal the AFSPA and to end security forces violations and impunity despite recommendations of several member states of United Nations in the first, second and third review of India in 2008, 2012 and 2017.

The continued enforcement of AFSPA, 1958 will mean the unleashing of more inhumanity, extreme forms of human rights violations, genocidal practices and a culture of impunity, targeting the most marginalized communities, indigenous peoples and national minorities. The AFSPA, 1958 has no place in the modern world. The derogation and denial of “Right to Life” and “right to justice”, simply contravenes all provisions of the International Law.

In Manipur in India’s North East, the self-determination efforts of indigenous peoples are responded militarily with brute forms of extensive militarization, facilitated by the enforcement of emergency legislations like AFSPS. Militarization processes in Manipur led to wide controversy in Manipur, especially the direct civilian casualties. One of the most direct impacts of militarization is on women and children. The infamous rape and murder of Miss Thangjam Manorama on 11 July 2004 by personnel of the 17th Assam Rifles and the countless victims of rape and other forms of sexual harassment is clear testament of the true nature of the Indian state. There are countless victims of rapes and sexual harassment committed by Indian security forces, such as the infamous incidents of Chanu Rose, Ahanjaobi etc and many rape cases goes unreported due to the fear of intimidation, social stigma etc. In Manipur, rape is being used as a weapon of war and indeed constitutes a form of genocide against the indigenous populace of Manipur. The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Ms. Rashida Manjoo during her recent visit to Manipur in April 2013, also urged upon the Government of India to stop all forms of State violence against women and to deliver justice for all violations recorded.

The failure to deliver justice for the unaccountable victims of extra judicial executions by the Indian armed forces and the Manipur police remains a serious matter of concern. The AFSPA, 1958 with its continued imposition in places like Manipur and other North East States, represents a clear a symbol of oppression, undemocratic nature in Manipur and wherever it is imposed in other parts of India. The Act has become an instrument of genocidal practices.

The failure to implement the recommendations already accepted by the Government of India in UPR reviews is another serious concern. The Government of India accepted to end enforced disappearances in India in the first UPR review in 2008, but enforced disappearance continues to be a serious concern in India. The practice of torture and enforced disappearance is another practice that undermined all democratic practices and the refusal to accept the recommendations to end enforced disappearance is a serious concern.  The recommendation to protect the rights of women and children is another concern which India accepts to adopt appropriate steps, but failing to reverse the trend of targeting violations.   The failure to accept the recommendations to protect Human Rights Defenders is a major concern, as testified by the increased incarceration and torture of human rights defenders, killing of journalist.

The call for protection of indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities is another area which the Government of India has failed to respond positively and indeed, indigenous peoples land and territories are increasingly been subjected to exploitation and plunder for economic development and mega development projects, like mining, oil exploration, mega dams, infrastructure projects etc that threatened their livelihood and survival. The plans to build the 1500 MW Tipaimukh dam, the 190 MW Pabram dam and 67 MW Khongnem Chakha dam over the Barak River will unleash multiple rights violations on indigenous peoples. The Ithai Barrage of 105 MW Loktak Hydroelectric project and the Mapithel dam has already caused wide displacement and affected the livelihood of indigenous peoples. The Government of India failed to adhere to the minimum standards of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 in all its effort to drill oil and gas or to mine minerals from Manipur. The Government also refused to accede to the ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.

The failure to accede and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is another concern and the ratification would definitely facilitate holding the perpetrators of the extreme forms of human rights accountable for the violations, such as in armed conflict afflicted region like Manipur.

The three UPR review of India in the year 2008, 2012 and in 2017 are continued processes and hence all the recommendations in the three reviews should be fully implemented. Accepting and full implementation of the recommendations in the UPR review of India is critical to foster the human rights of all peoples and to really uphold democratic practices in India. The human rights situation in Manipur and across North East India would continue to worsen and indeed, several states in the region continue to impose AFSPA, 1958 even after the recommendations to repeal the Act for its notoriety and genocidal practices. The Government of India should repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 and should end all forms of extra judicial execution and all forms of genocidal practices by Indian armed forces under AFSPA, 1958. The Government should ratify the Rome Statute on establishment of the International Criminal Court to enable the prosecution of those unleashing genocidal killings and other violations in Manipur. All appropriate steps to protect human rights defenders for exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression need be initiated. The Government should promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples by ending all forms of expropriation of their land, territories and resources and implement the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, 2007 to guarantee minimum rights and protection for indigenous peoples to survive as peoples with rights and dignity.

The UPR is another occasion to advance democracy in India. However, for reasons best known to itself, the country has chosen to ignore these important global processes and the crucial messages for fostering genuine democracy and practices. Especially for a country aspiring to a global leader with permanent membership in the United Nations, listening to the recommendations of both member states of UN and also from human rights organizations, would be a crucial steps to exhibit its real commitments to human rights and democracy.

 

Advertisements

Villagers demand government remove Ithai barrage in Manipur

Eastern Mirror, Nagaland, 8 September 2017

 
Nongmaikhong, Sep. 7 (EMN): The villagers of Nongmaikhong, a small village located about 55 km south of Imphal, on the southern part of Loktak lake in Manipur’s Bishnupur district have demanded removal of Ithai barrage for the revival of their sustainable livelihood.

The feeling and sentiments of the Nongmaikhong village which has around 300 houses were conveyed when a number of NGO representatives from various parts of the NE states visited their village on Thursday. “We experience worst ever flood in the past one decade as flood water enters to our fish farms three times in a row”, says 47 year old housewife N Bidyarani Devi of Nongmaikhong Awang Leikai. “So whatever we have in the fish has gone.”

This is not first time Bidyarani’s family has faced flood in her village. They have been suffering it every monsoon as their fish farm was routinely hit by flood every monsoon due to rising of water level of the Loktak Lake because of the damming for Loktak Multipurpose project (LMP) by Ithai barrage, a component of LMP since last 30 years.
Earlier the villagers use to collect aquatic vegetables in and around the Lake. But because of the restriction by forest authority to conserve the habitat of Sangai (brow antlered deer) at Keibul Lamjao, the only floating park in the country at Loktak, they could not do it. “So we want the government to remove the dam (Ithai barrage) for the welfare of the people,” mother of two children felt. Like Bidyarani’s family, 300 plus families of Nongmaikhong have a similar sentiment.

According to Budhi, more than 80,000 hectares of arable land was destroyed by water inundation and frequent flash flood through the year after the project was commissioned in 1983. Besides villagers of Nongmaikhong, villagers in the downstream of Ithai barrage, including those from Sandangkhong areas have a different feeling over the Ithai barrage.
It may be mentioned that Manipur based civil society organisations and NGOs have been voicing for the immediate review of the LMP. They have also started to discuss the pro and cons of LMP in the state while some others are looking for necessary steps in case of any consequences if the proposed review activities comes into force in reality.

This recent trend came into light soon after the state Chief Minister Biren Singh urged the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the LMP and Ithai barrage for a permanent solution to the frequent floods in the state during their meeting in Guwahati on August 1 this year. The total damages inflicted by the recent floods in Manipur has been estimated at Rs 223.83 crore which has been further increased to Rs 358.23 crore while a total of 78,677 hectares of agricultural land including 77,900 hectares of paddy, 307 hectares of maize, 300 hectares of pulses, 150 hectares of oil seed and 20 hectares of sugarcane have been damaged.About 25 persons also lost their lives.
The Loktak multipurpose project was taken up in 1983 to provide regulated storage to generate 105 MW of power and lift irrigation. The main component of the project include Ithai barrage (35ft high dam) across Manipur River with three spillway bays.

R&R Anomaly In Mapithel Dam

Themson Jajo,

The Imphal Free Press, 3 September 2017

http://www.ifp.co.in/article/item/3326-r-r-anomaly-in-mapithel-dam

History of India witnessed rampant involuntary social displacement and subsequent sub-standard life of its citizens due to development interventions like Industrial expansion, Highway & Railway construction, Mining activities and dam multipurpose projects. In each of such development undertakings, compulsive marginalization, loss of ancestral land, forest, homes, animal grazing fields, rivers etc. usually give drastic change of ecology, environment, and negative impacts on socio-cultural, economy, health and survival of the original incumbents of the project areas have been a common characteristic in century.

mapithel dam impact pictures എന്നതിനുള്ള ചിത്രം

Yes, it is undeniable that the infrastructures development is keys to improving well being of its citizen, advancement and up-gradation of national economy. However, the irony is, life of some sections of the society who sacrificed their invaluable land, forest, homes, river and resources for the general welfare, are permanently uprooted and pushed down to ground level towards abject pauperism, inability to continue dignified life and left with no hope of access to the main stream of the society in the name of development. Life of the settlers of Loktak Lake who were uprooted from their ancestral homes by Loktak Hydro-electric project and of the displaced tribal communities of Khuga dam project in Churachandpur, are some of the right examples of social displacement that led to disruptive livelihood and subsequent disaster thrown upon them due to mega projects in Manipur so far.

Being a welfare state, it is very much mandatory on the part of the states in attempt to undo continuous victimization of its own citizens in development interventions. The main objectives of Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RR) policies in all legislations- emphasis were laid on minimizing displacement and to promote,’ as far as possible, non-displacing or least-displacing alternatives; to ensure adequate rehabilitation package and expeditious’ implementation of the rehabilitation process with the active participation of the affected people. Welfare and well being of the public shall not be excluded adequate housing, living standard, education and better of the quality life of its own citizen.

mapithel dam impact pictures എന്നതിനുള്ള ചിത്രം

R & R anomaly in Mapithel dam

The affected villagers of Mapithel dam have been demanding for framing up a concrete R&R policy program of Manipur since early part of 2000’s and urged conclusion of Mapithel R&R matter under the plan. There were times when experts of various Govt. departments have been exhaustively working to frame up a definite shape of an RR for Mapithel dam since 2008 till 2011 in its review process. The recommendations of the experts field investigation were laid special emphasis on inevitability of arrangement of alternative livelihood sources, economy, proper RR etc. including detail impacts assessment. However, the expert’s reports were totally left oblivion.

Mapithel dam might be the first in the entire history of the world where multiple and varied standards of R&R policy programs are implemented and series of agreements signed in execution of one development project. The first R&R program of Mapithel dam project was implemented in 1990’s for construction area covering Louphong, Phayang and Maphou Kuki village followed by Memorandum of Agreed Terms and Conditions, 1993 for upstream. Another unilateral R&R plan was sketched in 1994 which was revised in 1998 and named it as RR plan of 1998. Still another R&R plan was formulated in 2008 for some group. This was followed by yet another segment of R&R plan in 2011. Still different kinds of R&R plan are coming up for different affected villages in the upstream, construction area like 2nd time RR for Maphou Kuki and 3rd time R&R for Louphong under compulsion being multiple cracks occurred as dam water impacts and immediate downstream villages.

As far as initiatives of state Govt. regarding Mapithel dam R&R is concerned, a clear testimony of unsystematic, inefficient, unjust, manipulative, random access and immaturity can be witnessed by general public. It is really unfortunate to experience that dealing the complex part of the project works in such a kind of lump-sum manner, where actually most of the controversies on social displacement, relocation and rehabilitation on alternative survival of the affecting people are circled like it happened in other such projects.

R&R anomaly still lingers in Mapithel dam project even after numerous attempt made by the project authority in such a long years. Most of the affected villagers turned down the arbitrary R&R program arranged by the project proponent/IFCD, Govt. of Manipur. The villagers of Chadong and other adversely affected villages objected the revised RR program of 2011 prepared by the state Govt. on the ground that whole process of RR program and subsequent implementation are against the High Court’s Stay order and deviated from the right channel which were carried out in complete lack of transparency & accountability. The villagers termed the latest R&R plan even as Imposed and Immature plan that undermined the rights and aspiration of the affected villagers.

However, it is optimistic to acknowledge formation of High Powered Committee (HPC) with the initiative of Hon’ble Minister, IFC, Govt. of Manipur on 2nd may 2017 with an aim to resolve the long contention of Mapithel dam RR issues. It is a firm believes of the general public that the HPC will take up positive steps towards finding a mechanism for permanent solution to the aged-old Mapithel dam R&R controversy which was wrought and fragmented by the previous Govt. in an insincere manner. Moreover, it is believed that the cardinal ingredients of R and R (2 Rs) are not screwed into single “R”, but the pertinent livelihood being disrupted be given serious concern to sustaining their future lives.

National Rehabilitation Policy

The Govt. of India did not give due consideration on such kind of rehabilitation or relief measures for the project affected people due to different reasons before she attains her independence. The matter of R&R is the concern and responsibility of the state Govt. as per conditions enshrined in the R&R Bill of 2007. Maharashtra was the first state in the country to pass a law on R&R in 1976. A rehabilitation law was passed by Madhya Pradesh Government in 1985, which applies only to irrigation projects. Karnataka state passed the rehabilitation act in 1987 but received the president’s assent only in 1994. Other states such as Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Orissa have their state rehabilitation orders.

Much later than the states Govt. enacted law, National Bills on R&R policy came to introduce on realization the quantum of negative impacts on India’s own citizen in the welfare programs for centuries. The Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2007 was framed up which was first formulated in 2003. Another act called Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act, 2013 which was officially enforced since January 2014. The latest one is the “Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement” (amendment) ordinance, 2015.

R & R policy in Manipur

Many states of India as abovementioned, R&R programs were implemented based on their own state’s Rehabilitation & Resettlement policies in 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s and Indian National R&R policy was enacted way back in 2003. However, it is very sad to witness that, there is no such R&R policy in Manipur state till date. It was on acknowledgement of lack of R&R policy of Manipur state, the UNSR on 26 March 2015 urged details of resettlement and Rehabilitation plan for Mapithel dam and measures taken for full enjoyment of right to adequate standard of living, including housing and food, and rights of indigenous people, social and environment impacts assessment of Mapithel dam but found no answer till today.

Conclusion

Considering the above circumstances, an attempt to finalize the RR matter for Mapithel dam project without definite R&R plan policy will be quite irrational as well as ridiculous as one compares to other states of India which follow their own states policies. It is assumed that Mapithel dam R&R issue cannot be left unresolved and not without comprehensive and fair conclusion in a systematic way.

Further, if the project authorities, Govt. of Manipur really means to resolve the RR issues of Mapithel dam, should it be best framing up a comprehensive Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R&R) policy first and take steps to finalize the impending issue under its purview, other than inconclusive piecemeal manner like it has been dealing in the history of last three decades of Mapithel dam construction. Finally, adoption of a holistic and viable state R&R policy program can be an anchor and good exemplary for all upcoming mega projects in the state so that undue victimization to its own citizen in the name of welfare project can be averted to maximum. Framing up of R&R policy in the line of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is highly incorrigible.

Mapithel Dam Controversy Forest Perspectives

Themson Jajo,

The Imphal Free Press, 20 Auggust 2017

http://www.ifp.co.in/article/item/2945-mapithel-dam-controversy-forest-perspectives

 

Almost all the development interventions especially mega projects interweave dimensional devastation of forest and its resources. There is intrinsic relationship between Forest and indigenous people in terms of social & cultural and economic that sustains their survival throughout different stages of their life. Nature produces the grass we use to feed livestock, the food we eat, the water we drink, and also the medicine we need. It inspires our culture, our traditions, our science and almost all walks of life. This is why there has been incessant struggle of indigenous people for conservation of nature, preserving the balance of the ecosystem which has always been the indigenous way of life.

The indigenous tribal peoples living in the Mapithel valley have been surviving in the region through many generations with close affinity with the forest and its resources. Forest is elixir for their life existence in the valley since their forefathers. The inseparable relationship between them and the provision they received from its free gift cannot be compensated with any other means being the forest dependent group.

The construction of Mapithel dam of Thoubal Multipurpose Project inevitably requires portions of land and forest. A total land area of 2,972.28 hectares of different categories covering paddy field, forest, home-stead and grazing grounds which are either completely submerged or adversely affected. Moreover, many forest & land areas which were not identified whether they are under submergence or not, have also been inundated which are not considered as compensatory area. Land & forest at the dam construction site, borrow land area, fruit & non-fruit bearing trees due to left and right flank of road construction as a component of the dam project fall under forest areas being damaged.

The Forest Conservation Act, 1980 (FCA, 1980), regulates the Diversion of forest for non-forest activities which requires prior clearances from the Ministry of Forest & Environment (MoEF). This was enacted to help in conservation of forest and to regulate de-reservation of forest. The FCA, 1980 & Forest Rights (Recognition of Scheduled Tribe & Other Traditional Forest Dwellers on forest) Act, 2006 (FRA, 2006) operate through corresponding rules and guidelines. Section 2 of the FCA, 1980 provides certain guidelines which state Govt. cannot proceed without approval of the Central Govt. in the following activities, De-reservation of reserved forest land, Use of forest land for non-forestry purpose and Assignment of forest land through lease or otherwise to any private person or any agency/corporation/organization which is not owned/managed/controlled by the state govt. clearing of trees that have grown naturally in a forest land or portion of it, for the purpose of using it for re-forestation.

It is mandatory to raise Compensatory Afforestation as an ameliorative measure double to the areas to be diverted/submerged. Catchment Area Treatment (CAT) plan is yet another aspect of forest which ought to be protected for perennial water sustenance of the dam reservoir. Besides this, maintenance of Green Belt around the dam reservoir is an inevitable part too.

Forest in Mapithel dam

According to figure found, out of 1215 hectares of land area under submergence, 48.97% ie, 595 hectares is forest area. And 70 Sq. km out of around 527 sq kms, are dense forest land. As per point II & III of the conditions stipulated in stage-I, in-principle clearance, Compensatory afforestation shall be done double to 595 ha i,e, 1190 hectares. And Catchment Area Treatment (CAT) plan @ 565 sq km. shall be implemented.

Forest diversion @595 hectares cover the forest areas of 14 villages such as, Maphou/Phayang, Louphong, Nongdam (T & K), Chadong, Lamlai Khunou, Ramrei, Riha, Thoyee, Jalenbung, Thoyee Kuki, Shangkai, Shikiphung and Lamlai Chingphei. Moreover, hundreds of hectares of forest destruction caused at construction site, borrow land at Chadong village, fruit & non-fruit bearing tress and deforestation happened due to Left & Right flank road construction as component of Mapithel dam.

Compensatory Afforestation (CA)

As per the conditions stipulated in the FCA, 1980, Compensatory afforestation ought to be carried out double to 595 ha i,e, 1190ha as mandatory in case of Mapithel dam. Reforestation was primarily targeted to take up at Chadong, Ramrei and Riha villages in 1993 however as per the latest information received as on 8th February 2016, 7 villages of Ukhrul district such as Mongkot Chepu-200ha, 2. Chepu Yaolen-200ha, 3. Somdal-100ha, 4. Ramva-100ha, 5. T.M Kasom-100ha, 6. Talloi-190ha and 7. Tungou-300ha have been selected for raising forest for Mapithel dam (CA).

Catchment Area Treatment (CAT) plan

Before analyzing the subsequent chapters, it will be good to know something about “What is catchment area and how are they treated” Generally, the river tributaries, brooks, streams, springs, forest trees and hills from where water flows in to certain location which sustains through them, is simply known as catchment area. Therefore, the hills, forest and tributaries, big or small, belonging to 43 villages of Ukhrul district in the Mapithel dam project upstream through which water flows into Yangwui kong/Thoubal River are the catchment areas of the project.

CAT plan of Mapithel dam project is categorized into Critical area and not critical. Critical areas constitutes 55 sq km of forest belonging to 10 villages such as, Maphou – Lamlai Monbung @ 18.70, Lamlai Khullen @4.31, Bungpi-Shangkai @5.03, Litan @3.95, Ringui @3.59, Lamlang Gate @4.31, Pharung-Shimdang @2.88, Ukhrul-Shimtang @ 3.59, Hungdung @6.47 and Teinem-Phadang @2.17 are identified as critical area. Critical area simply meant the portions where priority need to be given as the identified area have lost almost 3/4th of the top soil depth due to severe erosion observed by the expert, otherwise reservation will be the same.

The proposed CAT plan for Mapithel dam @ 565 sq.km covers the forest land areas of 43 villages of Ukhrul district. The following is the list of 43 villages of Ukhrul district comprising of 7223 households which are identified for CAT plan implementation as per the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environment Management Plan (EMP) prepared by the IFCD, Govt. of Manipur in 2006:- Tallui, Somdal, Phadang, Ngaimu(as written), Tuinem, Ukhrul, Seikhor, Shimtang, Hundung-Upper & lower, Langdang, Choithar, Lamlang, T. Chahong, Tushar, Tungou, Lambui, Shokvao, Yaolen Chepu, Lamlai Chingphei, TM. Kasom, Litan, Mongkot Chepu, Shangkai, Khangkhui khullen, Khangkhui khunou, Nungshong Khullen, Nungshong Khunou, Nungshang Chingthak, Shangching, Nungshang Chingkha, Jalenbung, Lamlai Khullen, Lamlai khunou, Chadong, Shikibung, Thawai Tangkhul, Riha Loutei, Thawai Kuki, Louphong, Lamlai Monbung, Loutei Kuki, Nongdam Tangkhul and Nongdam Kuki.

Importance of CAT plan implementation

It is the catchment areas protection that substantiates sustenance of dam water reservoir. It is an undeniable factor that Soil erosion, mud & land sliding leading to regular siltation causing speedy shallow up of the water reservoir within few year’s time and subsequent dysfunction of dams. As per the EIA report of the IFCD, Manipur, prepared by the Hydro-Bio-Tech Design Engineers in 2006, there has been side by side of forest areas being suffered critical damage due to several reasons where soil erosion has attained serious proportion. 100 years target life span of the Singda dam is now limits to maximum 30-35 years which runs 25 years today. Even in case of Mapithel dam, no action steps have been taken up under CAT plan according to the Forest Department till February 2016.

Negative impacts on tribal land owners

While the project proponent is trying to utilize the forest land on reforestation and catchment area treatment plan as the pivotal roles, implementation of the same will be giving exceptionally severe impacts upon the tribal customary forest land ownership. The rights of affecting land owners will be denied as the re-forested area under Compensatory Afforestation shall be notified as reserved /protected forest by the state Govt. within 6 months according to the official notice of B.K Singh Sr. Assistant General Inspector of Forest to the Principal Secretary (Forest), Forest Department, Govt. of Manipur, dated 11th January 2010. The plan of forest protection under CAT has a big challenge to the existing customary laws of the Tangkhul Naga tribe. They have their own set up laws of traditional land holding which are being infringed due to Mapithel dam construction. Diversions of forest and protections under different rules and regulations for the dam construction shatters the intrinsic relationship between the indigenous tribal communities and the forest which gives direct threats on survival of the people in the region.

Soon as CAT plan is implemented, it will be protected as good as reserved forest. It is compulsory that Rules and relevant forest protection Acts to be imposed in the reserved/protected forest area. Different regulations such as, fire protection measures (Chapter-II of Manipur Forest Rules 1971), restriction of hunting and shooting in the reserved forest(Chapter-III), pasturing of cattle in the reserved forest areas (Chapter-IV), Reserving trees in the protected forest(V), Cutting of trees, cultivation etc. in the protected forest(Chapter-VI), Transit of forest produce (Chapter-VII), Drift and standard timber (Chapter-VIII), Powers and duties of Forest Officers and Revenue Officer (Chapter-IX), Preservation of wild life in reserved forest (Chapter-XI), Eviction (Chapter-XII), Rules for the establishment and control of forest villages (Chapter-XIII) and penalties and rewards (Chapter-XIV) will be automatically imposed. Otherwise, the purpose of the dam may be hopeless. And in return, this literally leads to marginalization to the forest land owners.

Mandatory clearances

As per the conditions contained in Section 2 of the FCA, 1980, obtaining Forest & Environment Clearances from the concerned Ministries are mandatory. As per the set up rules, the User Agency/the project proponent is required to seek permission from the Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) at different levels. If the required forest diversion area is below 40 hectares, the User agency shall take permission from the MoEF, Regional Office, Shillong. And if the proposed forest diversion area exceeds 40 hectares, the necessary Forest & Environment clearances to be taken from the Central MoEF, Delhi. The FCA, 1980 requires certain procedures which are enshrined in the FCA for obtaining approval or clearances for a project needing forest diversion. FCA basically requires seeking approval from the Central Ministry for use of forest for non-forestry purposes which is referred to as Forest Clearance. The Forest & Environment Clearances should be accorded at two stages viz, Stage-I in-principle clearance to the proposed forest diversion subject to fulfillment of certain conditions and the stage-II will be the final which involved compliance of necessary procedures as per the FCA, 1980, FPA, 1989 and FRA, 2006 provide.

Litigations

The project proponent, IFCD Govt. of Manipur has been constructing the Mapithel dam project over 3 decades without obtaining Forest and Environment Clearances. Violations of Forest acts and Environmental laws were confirmed only when the affected villagers filed a case before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Principal Bench, Delhi in August 2013.

Construction of the project was halted by the NGT court in its Order dated 12th November 2013 &20th of November 2013 for violation of Forest & Environment acts, stating that, the project be maintained its Status Quo till 23rd January 2014 for necessary compliance of rules as per the acts. The said court issued the Interim orders based on the recommendations of the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA), a nodal Ministry regarding R&R and other related matters in November 2013. However, the 33 years old issue of mandatory clearances was resolved with a stroke of pen as the Union MoEF granted the Stage-II final Forest & Environment Clearances on 31st December 2013 and subsequent Clearance order of the NGT on 15:01:2014.

This is an undeniable fact to confirm that the Mapithel dam of Thoubal Multipurpose project involves flagrant violations on the aspect of forest diversion, land acquisition for protection of Catchment Area Treatment (CAT). There has been no knowledge and approval of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) which violates the Article 371-C of the Indian Constitution. Necessary process of taking proper FPIC of the affected forest land owners shall not be undermined.

Lastly, it is a compelling circumstance that the concerned project Authority takes up rectification measures and resolves the protracted imbroglio in Mapithel forest perspective in the line of legal framework before commissioning the project. Absence of this will give drastic impacts upon the affected tribal forest land owners of Mapithel dam in particular and tribal communities in general. Moreover, the same can be construed as snatching away the customary rights by force which will be a serious violation of forest and environmental laws. Moreover, it defeats the letter and spirit of FCA, 1980 and FRA, 2006 and will repeat the historic injustice done to the forest dwellers in India.

INDIA: Natural resources must be protected, indigenous people consulted before commissioning large-scale development projects in Manipur

Statement of the Asian Human Rights Commission, 8 September 2017

http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-117-2017

The floods that took place in mid-June in northeast India severely impacted the lives and livelihood of over 17 lakh persons, many of whom were displaced from their home villages. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) had earlier noted that the damage caused by the floods was heightened by the construction of numerous dams and hydropower projects, none of which had been subjected to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) as mandated by the law. These included the Ithai barrage constructed under the Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project and the Pare Hydro Power Project. Both were created despite protests from local communities, who live downstream from these projects and face great loss and severe damage, when these dams inevitably overflow during the monsoon season.

Most of the projects in the state are financed by external entities, such as the Asian Developmental Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. These institutions do not appear to take the wishes of residents into account, despite residents being the biggest stakeholders in such projects, due to the direct impact on their well-being. Under the Hydro Power Policy of 2012, there was a proposal to construct ten dams across the rivers in Manipur, despite the failure of most hydro projects/dams in the state. In addition to these failures, the entities responsible for monitoring the projects – the North Eastern Electric Power Coorporation (NEEPCO) and the National Hydroelectric Power Coorporation (NHPC) – are negligent in their administration, as evidenced by constant delays in opening dam gates during floods. Moreover, these entities are concerned with maximum power generation rather than the good of the people, creating a situation of conflicting interests, wherein corporate interests are given precedence over the rights of the residents.

In addition to the impact on the people, these projects have a marked adverse impact on the ecosystem, and in particular on indigenous communities in the area. The social and environmental impacts of the project have direct implications for indigenous communities, most of whom depend on agricultural activities for their livelihood. In their hurry to “develop” the state, the government has failed to even sign an MoU defining the terms and conditions of the operations of the project, leading to a regulatory abyss and lack of accountability. Much as how the agitation to save the Silent Valley in Kerala in the 1980’s led to the stoppage of a hydropower project in the region, the government must take account of the adverse impact of these projects on people and the environment.

On 03 September 2017, there was a consultation on this matter attended by parties including the Loktak Project Affected Areas Action Committee, Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organisation, JAC-Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected Peoples, Loktak Fisheries Welfare Association, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, and the Committee on Human Rights. The parties unanimously decided to petition the state and central governments to decommission problematic projects, including the Ithai Barrage project, the Tipaimukh dam, Pabram dam, as well as oil exploration projects all over the state. The idea behind these demands is to ensure a more spirited form of participative democracy and to recognise “the people’s rights in (the) development process”

The AHRC stands with the groups and organisations in demanding an independent Environmental Impact Assessment and ensure people’s participation during the commissioning and decommissioning of large projects that could have a deleterious effect on their lives, environment and livelihoods. The Central and State governments must take note of the adverse effect of these projects on the lives of residents in the area, as well as the fact that many of these constructions are unlawful, due to them being undertaken without fulfilling requirements under the relevant environmental laws. By ignoring the desires of the indigenous people who are the primary occupants of the land, the State is violating the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is essential that the demands made at the consultation on 03 September are acceded to, and that provisions for compensation to affected persons are made. Developmental policies including the North East Hydrocarbon Vision 2030, Manipur Hydro Power Policy of 2012 and the Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006.

People’s convention urges govt. of India to withdraw plans for mega dams

The Eastern Mirror,  8 September 2017

http://www.easternmirrornagaland.com/peoples-convention-urges-govt-of-india-to-withdraw-plans-for-mega-dams/

Imphal, Sep. 6 (EMN): A people’s convention in Imphal has resolved to urge the authorities to decommission the failed, under-performed and unsustainable mega dams such as Ithai Barrage, Khuga dam in Manipur,Dumbur Dam in Tripura and Ranganadi hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh. The Eastern Himalayan People’s convention on protection of indigenous people and natural resources which was organised by North East Dialogue Forum and its associate bodies. The convention was attended by representatives of Save Sikkim, Action Committee on Teesta, Borok Peoples Human Rights Organisation, Karbi Human Rights Watch, North East Dialogue Forum, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, Khasi Students Union, Peoples rights for Subansiri Valley, Youth forum for protection of human rights, Siang Peoples Forum and other civil society organisations.

The convention in their declaration has also resolved to stand against all mega dams in North East and to urge the Government of India to revoke all Memorandum of Understandings and rescind all plans to build mega dams all over the Rivers of Eastern Himalayas.

he said mega dams include 1500 MW Tipaimukh Dam and 190 MW Pabram Dam over the Barak River, the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Dam,the 2700 Lower Demwe Hydroelectric Project, dams in Tawang etc.It urged to stop the commissioning plan of Mapithel dam and release water from Mapithel dam reservoir.
Urging upon the UCIL and other companies to withdraw from Meghalaya and North East India,the declaration also urged the authority to rescind all plans of the UCIL to commercially mine uranium in Meghalaya including exploratory mining by AMD and stop all mining plans like Chromium and limestone mining in Manipur, Assam etc.

Appealing to repeal policies such as North East Hydrocarbon Vision, 2030, the Manipur Hydro Power Policy, 2012,Indian Oilfield Act, 1948 etc that facilitate extensive corporation, privatization and exploitation of indigenous peoples land and territories, it also demanded to stop “all oil exploration and drilling across North East States and to revoke all contracts and licenses awarded to oil companies like Jubilant Oil and Gas Private Limited, the Oil India Limited, the Asian Oilfields, CANARO etc for failing to respect indigenous peoples rights.”

Urging the International Financial Institutions to respect indigenous peoples’ human rights and also to stop financing projects whose intention is to plunder land and resources in the region,it appealed to review and rescind unsustainable and destructive development projects and policies, recognizing indigenous peoples’ rights over their land and ensuring their rightful involvement in development decision making processes in the region would be crucial step to realize sustainable development goals.

The declaration stated that urged India’s Act East Policy should also stop causing harm and destruction of peoples land and resources and violation of their human rights.
It further urged the Government of India to fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 in all development related decision making processes.

Nongmaikhong pours out Ithai Barrage woes

The Sangai Express, 8 September 2017

http://e-pao.net/GP.asp?src=3..080917.sep17

Imphal, September 07 2017: Villagers of Nongmaikhong today narrated pain and trauma inflicted upon them by the Ithai Barrage to a team comprising of media persons, North East Dialogue Forum (NEDF) members and delegates of Eastern Himalayan People’s Convention on Protection of Indigenous People and Natural Resources who visited the village today .

The visit was organized as a fact finding mission by North East Dialogue Forum (NEDF) as part of the ongoing Eastern Himalayan People’s Convention on Protection of Indigenous People and Natural Resources .

Nongmaikhong pours out Ithai Barrage woes
Nongmaikhong pours out Ithai Barrage woes

A public meeting on de-commissioning Ithai Barrage and Loktak Project was also held today at the residence of the local Pradhan .  Narrating their tales of woes and suffering, some villagers said that 83,500 hectares of paddy fields have been submerged under water due to the Ithai Barrage.  The remaining land portions which have not been submerged too cannot be used for agricultural activities and fish farms as these areas too face recurring floods every year, a resident said .

He went on to say that the villagers used to produce abundant quantity of rice every year but they are now buying exported rice from shops .  One woman said that she relied on fish farming and fishing in lakes and rivers for her family’s livelihood and she was able to run her family and meet educational expenses without much difficulty .

But now with her means of income cut off, the whole family has been suffering a lot and even children’s education has been affected, she lamented .  She further said that they now find rearing cattle very hard as frequent floods have destroyed all the grazing fields.
An elderly man from Wangoo Sandangkhong who attended the meeting said that before the commissioning of Ithai Barrage, many neighbouring villagers used to come in Wangoo Sandangkhong and Chairen to make their earnings by engaging in agricultural and fishing activities.

However, many of the villagers of Wangoo Sandangkhong have now migrated to other places in search of livelihood as the village is no longer suitable for agricultural works as the village faces floods when the gates of Ithai Barrage are opened and drought like situation in fields when closed . Delegates and all the people present at the meeting expressed that any developmental project should not pose threats to people.

They also observed that most of the developmental projects like dam constructions; oil and minerals extraction in North East region often turn out to be against the interest of indigenous people of the region as they face more disadvantages than advantages .
The meeting unanimously decided to unite the people of North East and stop construction of dams and extraction of oil and minerals in North East region and also to strive together to get Ithai Barrage de-commissioned .

Later, the team also inspected Ithai Barrage.

Cries for decommissioning Ithai barrage get shriller

The Imphal Free Press, 4 September 2017

http://www.ifp.co.in/item/3367-cries-for-decommissioning-ithai-barrage-get-shriller

 

IMPHAL | Sept 3:  The Centre for Research and Advocacy Manipur, secretary, Jiten Yumnam said people might lose Loktak lake in some decades if proper action is not taken against the commissioning of Ithai barrage. A public meeting was held today at Ningthoukhong bazar public community hall to demand decommissioning of Ithai barrage and Loktak project and investigation against NHPC. It was organised by Human Rights Forum Manipur (HRFM) and Youth Forum for Protection of Human Right (YFPHR).

Speaking on the occasion, Jiten as resource person said construction of Ithai barrage has caused more loss than good to the state and therefore the government should reconsider commissioning of Ithai barrage and Loktak power project. He said the construction of Ithai barrage not only affected the upstream habitats but also the downstream. It was constructed as part of the Loktak hydroelectric project which submerged more than 80,000 hectres of agriculture land. It has brought a reverse picture in economic status of Manipur from a self-sufficient to borrower’s position with a large number of agricultural lands submerged underwater, Jiten added.

He said several indigenous fish have disappeared from Loktak lake such as Ngaton, Khabak, Pengba, Tharaak, Ngaaraa, Ngaatin, etc due to Ithai barrage. It has been observed that these fish migrated from the Chindwin river of Burma to the course of Manipur river towards Imphal river for breeding in the adjoining lakes and streams of Manipur valley. Jiten further said Loktak project is also responsible for worsening climate change in Manipur by submerging the vegetation growth in Loktak wetlands. There are plans of National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) to renovate the Loktak power station to reap carbon credits from CDM of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is a clear false solution to climate change.

He claimed compensation of affected people during the commission of Loktak project and construction of Ithai barrage. The main cause of flood in the state is due to the construction of Ithai barrage, at the time of flood the gates of the barrage were opened at the time of emergency. The barrage was constructed with the assurance of benefit for the people but it is happening in a reverse manner. The solution to save the natural habitat of the state is to remove the barrage, Jiten claimed. United NGO Mission Manipur (UNMM) secretary, U. Nobokishore further said it has been confirmed that there is complete absence of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the NHPC and the government of Manipur on the operation and functioning of the 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project, which was commissioned way back in 1984.

He said the non-existence of MOU on 105 MW Loktak Project has been confirmed by the NHPC on May 9, 2017 in response to an RTI filed by Joy Haobijam of Thanga. There is no regulation on the operation of Loktak Project which also indicates that the NHPC has been given a complete free hand without any monitoring, regulation and accountability mechanism. Chairperson Ningthoukhong municipal council, Kangabam Mani Singh, Laishram Dwijamani Singh and president of Manipur Sahitya Parishad Bishnupur branch, Laishram Budhichandra Singh attended the meeting as chief guest, president and guest of honour.

The meeting resolved to appeal the central government to decommission the Loktak Hydro Electric Power Project immediately. NHPC should compensate all the destructions made since the commissioning of the project and it must be punished according to the rule of law. After the public meeting a silent rally was taken ou in Ningthoukhong bazar area demanding decommissioning of Ithai barrage and Loktak project and to investigate against NHPC.

Many say No to oil exploration, mega dams in Manipur

The Sangai Express, 3 September 2017

http://e-pao.net/GP.asp?src=1..030917.sep17

Imphal, September 02 2017: A one day consultation on “Protection of Land and Natural Re-sources in Manipur” was organized at Manipur Press Club today by Loktak Project Affected Areas Action Committee, Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organi-zation, JAC � Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected Peo-ples, Loktak Fisheries Wel- fare Association, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur and Committee on Human Rights .

Speaking at the function, Jiten Yumnam, secretary, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, stress-ed on the need for effective protection of land and natural resources of Manipur. He said that most of the development processes, both policies and projects, are introduced without the consulting the people and without obtaining their consent, and are often incom- patible and against their development wishes and aspirations .

Many say No to oil exploration, mega dams in State
Many say No to oil exploration, mega dams in State

Pantiliu Gonmei, secretary, Rongmei Lu Phuam said that the ongoing effort to drill oil in Tamenglong areas and build dams over the Barak River are big concerns . She opined that indigenous communities of the State need to strive collectively for protection of land and resources in the State .

Panmei Tingenlung, CPNRM, expressed concern with the ongoing push for oil exploration in Manipur without the consent of the indigenous people and without conducting proper assess-ment of possible impacts on the land and the eco system .
Gopen of Irabot Foundation, deliberated that the Loktak Project has led to loss of agricultural lands and stressed on the need to asses its economic impacts .

Chairman of Committee on Human Rights, Phulindro Konsam, stated that international financial institutions like the Asian Developmental Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency are facilitating loot and plunder of the State’s land and resources through their road and railway projects as these projects failed to recognise communities’ rights over their own lands .  Advisor of AMESCO, Brojen, shared that projects like the 105 MW Loktak Project is intended to undermine the food sovereignty of Manipur and foster dependency on outsiders .

Haobijam Kumar, president of All Loktak Area Fishermen Union, pressed for the repeal of the Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006, and decommissioning of the Ithai Barrage of Loktak Project . He alleged that the NHPC remains irresponsible and unaccountable for the destruction of agricultural lands and the suffering and hardship caused to the people .

The Ithai Barrage is clearly a curse for Manipur and the recent announcement of the Environment Minister to evict encroachers from Loktak wetlands and its peripheral area is a clear concern. Any development processes impacting Loktak needs to consult and take the consent of the communities, he added .

Majabung Gangmei, speaker of Zeliangrong Baudi, stated that development policies like the Manipur Hydro Power Policy, 2012, was formulated proposing around 10 dams all over the river of the State and this policy came despite the failure and under-performance of many of the dams built in Manipur . Many other attendees also shared their views and ideas during the consulation programme .

Seven resolutions were also adopted at the programme. The resolutions included decommission of Ithai Barrage, stopping the commissioning of Mapithel dam and ensuring free flow of Thoubal River, stopping oil exploration in Manipur and revocation of all licences, contracts given to Jubilant Energy, Oil India Limited and Asian Oilfields, scrapping and repealing of all developmental policies like the North East Hydrocarbon Vision 2030, Manipur Hydro Power Policy, 2012 and the Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006 .

Decommission Ithai dam cry gets shriller

The Imphal Free Press, 2 September 2017

http://www.ifp.co.in/item/3320-decommission-dam-cry-gets-shriller

IMPHAL | Sept 1:  The call to scrap Ithai Dam intensifies as locals of Thanga protested today urging the state government to decommission the dam. The local fishing community along with other activists echoed that Ithai dam is more a “curse” rather than bringing development. A community meet on merits and demerits of 105 megawatt Loktak Project was held at Thanga, Haorang Chingya today. The meet was organized by Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, North East Dialogue Forum, Centre for Research and Advocacy Manipur, Committee on Human Rights, Irabot Foudation, United Clubs of Thanga, All Thanga Meira Paibi Apunba Organization, Loktak Project Affected Areas Action Committee and Loktak Fisheries Welfare Association.

Image may contain: 5 people, people standing and outdoor

Among the speakers, Y. Maipakchao of Thanga and president of United Clubs of Thanga said that the project has brought only problems and instead of development. The indigenous fish and prawns, different edible water plants and paddy cultivated in the phumdis have also disappeared. It is high time that the public put pressure on the government to decommission the Ithai barrage, he said.

Leinungshi, secretary of ATMPAO said that the Loktak and the people surrounding the lake was self-sufficient before the dam came. “There was no need for getting rice when times were hard and we all depended on Heikrak and other water plants. The phumdis were cleared every six months and planted again and such was the exercise. Now, after the dam had been commissioned, all farm lands have been flooded and the catch has gone down,” she said. “They do know how to take care of the lake. They sit behind desks and do paperworks. We have been there since time immemorial and we know how to take care of the lake. The dam needs to go and the public need to rally to CM Biren’s initiative to decommission the project,” she said.

Ph. Deban, AMUCO president said that the lake has become a centre for contract works and some people are skimming huge profits. The indigenous fish, which are supposed to spawn at the lake has not been able to come. The electric supply, which was promished to the public, is a farce. The dam is also another main cause for flash floods in the state.

“We appeal to the government to open the dam when flooding occurs. The siltation in the rivers is also caused by the dam. Is the government remaining blind to the damage? This is a project for thieves and not for the welfare of the people,” he said, adding that the dam has made us dependent on other states.

“In 1939 rice was exported from here and led to the Nupi Lal. Now the tables have turned and our self-reliance has gone. The mineral resources of our state have been exploited and the lake is also exploited. The Loktak Development Authority needs to go and the useless dam needs to be de-commissioned,” he concluded.

Senior environmentalist RK Ranjan said before the dam was commissioned in 1983, the Iril, Imphal, Thoubal river, Chakpi and others flowed freely. The Khordak river brings the culminated water into the lake. The upstream and downstream flow of the rivers have been disturbed. The siltation has been brought to the lake and all of this is caused by the dam.The state has witnessed three floods in this year. Engineers of the Loktak project state that the siltation in rivers beds is the cause of flooding but this is false, he said.

Further, there is no memorandum of understanding between the state and the NHPC regarding the project. The chief secretary has intimated the Central Water Commission to give the MoU now. Even CM Biren had urged the ministry and the Prime Minister that the Ithai barrage needs to be decommissioned.

Sareng, Ngatin, Pengba Tharak etc. have all disappeared but the other species brought from outside have been thriving on the polluted water of the lake.This is another calamity for the future. Nearly 54,000 hectares have been devastated and ‘food soverignity’ has gone, he said. “How much rice would have been produced in the last 34 years,” he mentioned, adding that foreign breed of rice and chemicals have been used to supplement the shortage is a health hazard.

“NHPC is not producing electricity either now and the public purchase power supplied from the national power grid. Does our government know how much water was used during the last few months. We have no development but our culture is at stake. Our food source is diminishing. A fact finding report needs to be sought about dredging river beds. It will be a contract for some people only.  Rather, trees should be planted in the riverbeds to be able to stop the force of the floods,” he said.

A rally was later taken out by the public demanding the decommissioning of the dam.