A Zeme Villager tilling his land at Makuilongdi Zeme Village in Manipur

Traditional Fishing at Zamroi River in Makuilongdi Zeme Village, Manipur

Communities affected by railway construction demand compensation

The Imphal Free Press, 10 May 2019


IMPHAL | May 9:  Representatives of communities reportedly affected by the Trans Asian Railway works in Tamenglong, Noney and Imphal West districts have submitted a memorandum to the chief minister of the State to address their grievances.

Pic: Destruction of Forest land in Marangching Village due to ongoing works of the Trans Asian Railway

The memorandum submitted on May 9, urged the state government that all forms of alleged violations against indigenous peoples’ rights in Tamenglong, Senapati and Imphal West committed by the Northern Frontier Railways must be urgently stopped. It also demanded that dumping of earth, mud and rocks in Barak river, Irang river, Ejei River,Maklang river and other streams in railway work areas must be halted.

The memorandum further appealed the chief minister to rehabilitate and compensate the loss of their land and sources of their survival which have been damaged in Noney, Tamenglong and Imphal West districts.

It alleged that the construction of railway works was commenced even before taking the consent of communities and without receiving the Forest clearance from the ministry of Environment and Forest. The Northern Railway of the Centre had commenced railway work in Tamenglong district, in clear violation of the right to free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples of Tamenglong, Senapati districts and those affected in Imphal West districts, it stated.

It also mentioned that the source of water for the villages have been obstructed as the approach roads and tunnel works have directly blocked and diverted the water sources. Furthermore, chemicals and cement discharge from the tunnels bored for putting railways tracks are directly dumped in the rivers, including Irang river, Barak, Ejei and Maklang river, it said.

It continued, the tunneling and earth excavation works of the Indian railways led to massive destruction of the natural streams like Ningthourok and Yemunglok, which are the only water sources for villages like Tairenpokpi, Atong Khuman, Sairemkhu, Phayeng Chingtaba in Imphal west district.

It further alleged that the railway authorities have dumped chemicals in the Maklang river, where villagers of Maklang, Tairenpokpi and other villagers depend for water. The authorities failed to assume any responsibility for destruction of water resources of the villagers, it added.

The multiple blasting in the boring of tunnels in the hill has reportedly led in formation of cracks in the hills in Noney district affecting the water source and its availability, such as in Maranjing village.

Several water streams are being absorbed through the myriad cracks that developed due to the blasting, depriving the villagers of much need water for drinking and irrigation purpose, it said adding the N.F Railway is also dumping the chemical laden mud directly in rivers and rivulets.

The paddy fields along the Barak River and Ijei River in the villages of Noney, Tupul, Sinilong and Marangjing have been affected, it said. Villagers in Maranjing complained of crop loss and reduced agriculture yield due to the deposition of cement and chemical laden water discharge in their agriculture land. Fishing and collection of other aquatic species for livelihood has been affected due to contamination of rivers, it added.

Further, it said, the ministry of Railways has allegedly failed to conduct detailed environment impact assessment and Social Impact Assessment.  The villagers are not informed of the exact land areas to be affected by the project, it stated.

It further alleged that the affected villagers of Maranjing, Lukhambi, Awangkhul, Khongsang, Nungtek, Kambiron were compelled to give up portion of their land lost.

The memorandum further said that the villagers are not informed of the exact land areas to be affected by the project. The creation of multiple approach roads to reach tunnels had allegedly led to further land acquisition without taking the consent of communities leading to further destruction of cultivable land and forest and thus impacting the communities’ livelihood sources, it informed.

A total of 1005.005 hectares of forest land will be diverted for the broad gauge railway line project which will involve felling of 1,19,700 hectares of forest land, 214.3 hectares are moderately dense forest, it said adding  the diversion of forest was carried out in an exclusive process and has affected the water source of many villagers.

Addressing media persons on the sidelines of ‘People’s consultation on the impact of the railway project’ conducted at Manipur Press Club today, secretary of Nungba Area Women Welfare Association, Adin Panmei said villages around Ringpang to Khoupum depend on agricultural activities to support the family. Since the construction of the railway line begins in 2009, the villagers had been against it as their lands have been affected.

She said soil erosion has occurred due to the constructions leading to loss of agricultural land in the area. Even the water in Noney areas cannot be utilized for daily use as it contains sediments from the construction, she said.  Since the people cannot live without water, the villagers are forced to use it which in turn leads to skin diseases. The government had also assured the villagers for compensation of the lands affected by the construction but till date there is no initiative from the government, she added.

One of the organiser, Kiran Thokchom informed that the awareness program is organised to expose the hidden agendas behind the construction of Trans Asian Railway project. If the authority fails to work with the consent of the people, the project should be stopped, he added.


Mapithel Dam has become a tragedy trap

The Imphal Free Press, 30 April 2019


IMPHAL| Apr 29:  The Centre for Research and Advocacy (CFAR), Manipur has expressed its concern over the increased cases of loss of lives at Mapithel Dam Reservoir in the wake of the latest incident of three persons drowning at the site on April 28.

Chadong submergedIMG_3815.JPG

Pic: Submergence of houses in Chadong Village, Manipur by Mapithel Dam reservoir

While mentioning that at least 16 people have lost their lives in the reservoir since the blocking of Thoubal River from January 2015, a release signed by the president of CFAR-Manipur, Sanaton Laishram stated that Mapithel Dam has become a cause of tragedy for residents of Mapithel areas with increased loss of lives and the possibility of further losses.

“Mapithel Dam has not only destroyed the livelihood of the local people by inundating close to 2000 hectares of agricultural land and 595 hectares of forest land while also claiming the lives of several locals along with visitors to the area,” it asserted while adding that the dam has also failed to generate electricity, and provide irrigation and drinking water.

CFAR, in its release, further stated that the failure of the State government to iniatiate precautionary and safety measures for the locals of Chadong village and surrounding areas is unfortunate. “The locals are compelled to rely on makeshift boats to cross the dam reservoir for travelling purposes since the blocking of Thoubal River,” it continued while also asserting that the Dam is slowing creating a disaster not only for the environment and nature, but also for the very people the dam intends to provide benefit.

Stating that the development processes and projects like Mapithel Dam should promote the safety and well-being of villagers instead of being a death trap, the release further asked the government of Manipur to end the blocking of Thoubal River in the interest of the wellbeing and safety of villagers of both upstream and downstream areas.

Mapithel Story: Mystery Of Loss Of Lives

The Imphal Free Press, 30 September 2018


The natural conditions of the Mapithel Valley were transformed into a huge ocean with beautiful view when the free flowing Yangwui Kong/Thoubal River was blocked in 2015. Yes, people are impressed with the new features of the region with the impounded water that attracts many people of Manipur from far and near and even from the outside world. The Mapithel Valley, which embodied cultural ethos for the indigenous villagers for time immemorial, is now completely turned into a different sphere where people can enjoy it for recreation, picnicking, merry making, spending leisure time, part time fishing, boating and others for study purposes. Besides this, some villagers in the periphery of the Mapithel dam reservoir are grabbing commercial opportunities through-out the year being the locations possess the potential of tourism and some are benefited by fishing activities.

Simultaneously, the other side of the Mapithel story is a series of incidents of mysterious drowning of lives that becomes a very common feature in the Mapithel valley. As per study record, it is found that the Mapithel dam water reservoir has claimed precious lives of nine persons so far since the coffer dam era. Two minors girls at the age of about 8 & 14 from Maphou Kuki village were drowned in the coffer dam period, an elderly person of about 70 from Riha village in August 2016, two sisters of about 4 and 7 years of age from Tumukhong in 2017 right behind the dam wall, a middle aged male of about 35 from Tumukhong in May 2018 at the water drop point of the dam spill way, one full grown up girl of about 28 of Risophung village on 29/7/18 at the dam site, one bachelor from Mayang Imphal on 12th August 2018 and another man from Keishamthong, Imphal on 30th August 2018 both were drowned at Ramrei portion of the dam reservoir.

Furthermore, other than loss of human lives, the Mapithel water reservoir has also led to mysterious dead of about 15 and 39 number of cows by unknown Epidemic at Chadong in 2016 and Ramrei in March 2017. As was reported in the newspapers, the massive dead of cattle were suspected to be due to change of natural habitat when their usual grazing fields were gone in the dam water. Besides this, as was recorded in October 2016, there has been massive drowning of herds of birds and bees in the Mapithel water reservoir. These were documented through photo capture and fact story narration by the settlers. It is further informed that such drowning dead of bird & bees are discovered almost every day. Such incident has larger implications of big threat to ecological balance in the region. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that, most of the indigenous river water species like snail, kongreng and different kinds of fishes such as Ngara, Ngawa, Ngamusangom, Khabak, kharaobee, Ngarinleina etc. etc. which were commonly found in the Thoubal River are extinct. The impact of such does not confined to dam reservoir area but affect caused beyond Litan portions of Thoubal River. Still another incident of such loss of living creature is, extinction of varied kinds of mushrooms in the nearby forest area of Riha village which were profusely found over decades have been totally vanished on indiscriminate deforestation in an attempt to substantiate the worsening economy of villagers when their main means of livelihood was shattered.

What really caused such loss of human lives vis-à-vis living creatures?

It will not be wrong to maintain that the current topic of loss of lives is in fact the counter-productive impacts of the Mapithel dam project. Firstly, Myth or real, believe it or not, depends on readers. As per narration by some old folks, lives of those nine persons in the Mapithel reservoir are expression of the fury of god and goddesses of the river areas and goddess of Shirui Kashong for their respective river-bed areas and path being spoiled and blocked by this dam. Secondly, in another random reasoning, the nature of water in the ocean form is more dangerous than in their natural free flowing river conditions. Ocean water has capability to wave object or human body into deeper zones with its regular movement. Situation of water in river form has better chance of safety as its current flows deep to shallow areas alternately. Thirdly, it can also be maintained that death of people in the dam water may be due to recklessness and un-mindful actions however, on comparative study, the death rate at this stage at least @ 2-3 persons every year in the post dam period is quite alarming which was never common in the entire history of the Mapithel valley before dam.

Here is one latest fact story of the first probable reason for series of death mentioned above which took place on 17th September 2018. Three youths from Imphal valley belonging to Meitei community enjoyed freaking themselves in the water reservoir using the locally made bamboo raft on the mentioned date at Ramrei portions. In spite of warning many times, they kept on rowing. Apprehending the danger they were about to face, the Care-Taker of the spot who was appointed by the village, scolded them with final warning. Right then they went ashore. Now the later part of the story is, the Care-taker was knocked down nearby a Pan shop in a mysterious manner. None could assure who knocked him down. On consultation with a local physician, it was vindicated that the god/goddess of the area attempt to take away life of one person among those three. So, it expressed it’s wrath when the Care-taker chased them out from the water. Fortunately, that Care-Taker survived on hairline escape.

It is worth mentioning that the arising sorrowful incidents of drowning human and other living creatures aggrandized the already inflicted Mapithel valley region with permanent menace of flood in the upstream and dry and scarcity in the downstream portion since the Yangwui Kong/Thoubal River was blocked to facilitate the project completion. It is very much remarkable that this counter-productive impacts bitterly sufficed the anguish situation in the area which has already created an irreparable lost of immoveable properties in the said Valley such as – land, forest, residence, homestead and river that virtually scraped the ecosystem jeopardizing the natural environment and impairment of survival sources of the communities.


In the light of the above discussion, it is pertinent to ask “How worth is Mapithel dam?” Can the target benefit of the project @ 7.5 MW of power, irrigation to 33,449 hectares of agricultural land and drinking water to Imphal area really compensate the precious lives of 9 human, losses of cattle every year, endangered ecosystem by massive drowning of birds and bees season after season, extinction of uncountable indigenous fishes and other water species? Other than loss of land, forest and other immoveable assets which come in terms of multiple crores of amount which are even one time loss in one sense, the loss and damages we are discussing in this article as a counter-productive impacts bears potentiality of continuous ocurrence as long as the Mapithel dam exist. On overview of the quantum of devastation, hardships to affected people and arising continuous counter-productive impacts without signal of preventive and mitigating measures, it is compelling to view the Mapithel Dam Project as a “Doom rather than Boon”, a destiny for ending lives of living creatures.

Finally, the project developer needs to take a serious note of the arising artificial calamities causing out of the Mapithel dam reservoir as counter-productive outcome rather than continuous insistence to commissioning the project. Furthermore, it can be maintained that unless serious concern is given and review the Mapithel dam project in time, communities living in the Downstream too may not be free from havoc like the recent flood disaster caused in the Kerala state where fault dam management was one of the main reasons.


Call to scrap failed dams in Manipur

The Nagaland Post, 15 March 2019

Call to scrap failed dams in Manipur
Locals call for scrapping Mapithel Dam at Nongbrung village in Imphal East district on Thursday.

Correspondent. IMPHAL, Mar 14 | Publish Date: 3/14/2019 11:59:05 AM IST

Environmentalists and experts in Manipur have  called for scrapping the failed dams in Manipur so as to let the rivers flow free in its natural state, on the occasion of “International Day of Action for Rivers.”  Manipur environment department in collaboration with Classic Group of Hotel and Southeast Asia Centre for Agricultural Sciences observed the occasion  at Hotel Imphal under the theme, “Climate change and ecosystem in Manipur”. Environmentalists who spoke on the occasion related the drastic climatic change witnessed in the state with disturbances to the natural course of the rivers while taking up developmental projects.  Environmentalist RK Ranjan Singh observed the need for an in-depth research into the nature of flow of rivers in the state while asserting that two important rivers of Southeast Asia originated from the state.

RK Ranjan Singh said, Manipur was formed out of platonic action. As land slopes from north to south, the state is the origin of various important rivers, citing the two biggest rivers, Manipur river that joins Chinwin river in Myanmar and Barak River as important rivers of Southeast Asia that cannot be left behind while studying Southeast Asia, he said. While combating the climate change and ecosystem of the state, an in-depth study on the rivers originating from the state and its natural flows should be taken into account, RK Ranjan Singh added.

Meanwhile, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM) joined hands with Irabot Foundation, Manipur in another celebration at Nongbrung village in Imphal East district, the village affected by Mapithel Dam.  Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected Village Level Committee (MDDAVLC), Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected Peoples (MDDAP) hosted the celebration under the theme, “Let the rivers flow free in Manipur”. CRAM secretary Jiten Yumnam alleged that free flow of rivers in the state were being disturbed as they were targeted to unsustainable development processes such as the construction of hydropower projects.

This has undermined the survival relationship between indigenous communities and the rivers and land as in the case of  villagers affected by the Mapithel Dam and 105 MW Loktak Hydroelectric Project in downstream and upstream areas, he said.

Despite the failure of the Khuga Dam, Khoupum Dam etc to  fulfil their objectives, the government is still planning  a mega hydropower projects like 1500 MW Tipaimukh Dam on the Barak River, he lamented. Yumnam added that these hydropower projects were plagued with widespread social and environment impacts.

“These projects submerged agriculture and forest areas which indigenous communities depend for their livelihood and survival while also affecting the habitation of endemic flora and fauna of Manipur,” he observed.  Kh Bimola Devi, president of MDDAVLC, alleged that the construction of Mapithel Dam destroyed the fragile ecology of Thoubal River and impoverished the affected communities in downstream villages as villagers could no longer collect sand and stone due to impoundment in the dam reservoir.

She highlighted the hardships being facing by the villagers whose main livelihood was sand quarrying from the Thoubal River after the free flow of the river was blockaded by Mapithel Dam in January 2015.  Alleging that the dam has no any significance to the locals, she demanded restoration of the flow of the river in its original state.

International Rivers Day at Nungbrung Village

The E-Pao.Net

15 March 2019


 International Rivers Day at Nungbrung Village on 14th March 2019
International Rivers Day at Nungbrung Village on 14th March 2019

The Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected Village Level Committee, the Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected Peoples, the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur and the Irabot Foundation, Manipur Jointly celebrated the international Rivers Day at Nungbrung Village, Imphal East District on 14th March with the theme “Let the Rivers Flow Free in Manipur”.

Mr. Jiten Yumnam, Secretary, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur shared that Rivers of Manipur are targeted to unsustainable development processes such as the construction of hydropower projects that curtailed the free flow of rivers and undermining the survival relationship of indigenous communities with the rivers & land, as in the case of those villagers affected by the Mapithel Dam and 105 MW Loktak Hydroelectric Project in downstream and upstream areas. Mr. Yumnam further stated it is unfortunate that mega hydropower projects like 1500 MW Tipaimukh Dam are planned across the Rivers of Manipur even as commissioned dams like the Khuga dam, the Khoupum dam etc have failed to fulfill their objectives.

Ms. Khundongbam Bimola, President of the Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected Village Level Committee shared that the construction of Mapithel dam destroyed the fragile ecology of Thoubal River and impoverished the affected communities in downstream villages such as Laikhong, Tumukhong, Nungbrung etc, as villagers could no longer collect sand and stone due to the impoundment in the dam reservoir. Villagers could no longer send their children to school due to impoverishment due to the dam.

 International Rivers Day at Nungbrung Village on 14th March 2019
International Rivers Day at Nungbrung Village on 14th March 2019

Ms. Ibetombi Nameirakpam of Nungbrung Village shared that the blockade of the free flow of the Thoubal River since January 2015 by Mapithel Dam caused much hardship to the people living along the Thoubal River. The Government’s order against the extraction of sand by using machines has further affected the livelihood means and sustainability of the villagers. Therefore, the dam does not have any significance to the locals and hence, the Government should restore the river back to its original state.

Mr. Yumlembam Thoiba of the Mapithel Dam downstream Affected Peoples shared that the Mapithel dam is the root cause of all the hardship and livelihood challenges in villages along the Thoubal River. The Mapithel dam reservoir caused the Thoubal River to cease its flow.

The Mapithel dam caused misunderstanding among communities seeking livelihood and dependence for water on Thoubal River. Ms. Nomita Takhenchangbam of the Youth Forum on Human Rights shared the Mapithel dam and other unsustainable projects in Manipur are a threat to the survival of indigenous peoples of Manipur.

Later, the villagers of Women leaders and selected villagers of Nungbrung, Laikhong and Tumukhong villagers organized a symbolic protest along the Thoubal River in Nungbrung Village urging the Government of Manipur to ensure the free flow of Thoubal River and also to stop the commissioning of Thoubal River, to ensure the livelihood of all communities in both upstream and downstream affected by the Mapithel dam. The participants also called to stop building dams in all the Rivers of Manipur.

 International Rivers Day at Nungbrung Village on 14th March 2019
International Rivers Day at Nungbrung Village on 14th March 2019

Ogiek People striving to claim their ancestral Mau Forest land in Kenya

Benefits of Khuga dam remain uncertain

Benefits of Khuga dam remain uncertain

Pic: Benefits of Khuga dam remain uncertain

By Babie Shirin, The Imphal Free Press, 13 March 2019


IMPHAL | Mar 12

Khuga Dam which impounds the Khuga River on south of Churachandpur town still lies in uncertainty on whether it is benefiting the people. The question raised now, is whether the dam is required for the people, as numbers of complaints have come up and many urging the state government to give benefits.

This IFP reporter visited the canals concerning Khuga dam and found that the irrigation canal is functional only up to a few kilometres downstream while the remaining parts remain dry. The proposed hydroelectricity generation from the project never materialised. As of today, not a single unit of electricity has been generated from the dam. No power house for generating electricity exists as well.  Khuga dam, which has been inaugurated in 2010 by Sonia Gandhi, started its construction in 1983 and resumed in 2002 after being at a standstill for a period of time.

Khuga dam which is also called Khuga Multipurpose Project was first considered in the year 1980, and the cost of the project was 15 crores. The project is located near Malta village in Churachandput district of Manipur, at least 10 kilometres from district headquarter. The project was to irrigate 15,000ha of land, provide 10million gallons for drinking water and have installed capacity of 7.5 MW hydropower, according to South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP).

The Advisory Committee in the Union Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) had clearance of 38 projects in North East for consideration of techno-economic viability of irrigation, flood control and multi-purpose proposals (TAC in short) for Northeast India, as per a report from SANDRP.

Among the 38 projects 12 projects includes 6 irrigation projects, 3 barrage projects, 3 multipurpose projects. Within these projects, three multi-purpose projects are located at Manipur. They are Khuga Multi-purpose project, Dolaithabi Barrage Project and Thoubal Multi-purpose project.  All these projects are very old and how much benefits have been acquired from them still remains uncertain. The Khuga dam on TAC meeting in 110th and 115th project witnessed cost escalations of 25.42 and 28.92 times respectively from its original cost.

In the 115th meeting of TAC 2012, the completion deadline was stated as March 2013 which implies that it would take 33 years only to complete the project. The meeting also stated that the project authorities indicated that the increase in cost was due to frequent blockades and law and order problem in the project area, as a result, project authority were unable to obtain construction materials which in turned slowed down progress of the project significantly. It may be mentioned that the Khuga project was inaugurated on 2010 in the month of November by Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

The projects was visualised to solve the irrigation, drinking water and electricity problem of Churachandpur district in particular and Manipur in general since agriculture is the main livelihood option of the region. But in terms of irrigation, the plans have become unrealistic. In fact, an inspection of the main right canal showed the very sorry state of the canal.

When it comes to drinking water, people in the area when faced with water scarcity, were not sure whether the water reserved in Khuga dam would qualify as good enough for drinking. Coming to electricity generation, the component had been scrapped totally even after the power house was reported to be completed by almost 80 percent. It was learnt that power component was planned and designed without studying its operational feasibility and the power component can be operated for only about 3 or 4 months in a year when there is excess water.

There was also a report that a Joint Action Committee on Khuga Dam visited national capital and submitted a petition to Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission demanding an expert team to investigate the execution of the project in 2014. The Joint Action Committee also demanded that the 1.5MW electricity for the people of Churachandpur and compensation and rehabilitation money to the affected villages should be cleared.  None of the above mentioned petitions submitted to planning commissioned were not mentioned on the meeting of TAC.

From the history of Khuga dam, it is clear that the promises were never fulfilled and benefits never reached the people, even after completion. The benefits from irrigation largely remained on paper. Now, the people in canal areas have stated that they will bury the canals stating that it was a waste of land and separated the villages into two sections because of the canal. “Even in rainy days, the canal stores less quantity of water. So how can these canal will store water in dry season? Khuga dam did not and does not provide water since it had been completed. It is better to bury  these canals and use them in other ways,” said a one villager. The voice of the people concerning the Khuga Project’s canals is strong, it requires attention as it violates the rights of the people with false promises.

Probe ordered

Source: The Sangai Express, 23 February 2019


Imphal, February 22 2019: CJM Bishnupur has ordered an enquiry into the death of Heisnam Saratkumar in the custody of Keibul Lamjao police station.  Acting on a petition filed by Saratkumar’s mother Heisnam Momon, the CJM issued an order to this effect today.  Saratkumar (48) of Khordak Mayai Leikai, Bishnupur district was found hung to death inside the lock-up of Keibul Lamjao police station on February 17.Saratkumar was arrested from his home by a combined team of Bishnupur District Police and Range Forest Officer, Keibul Lamjao National Park, Range II on February 14 on the charge of killing a wild boar.

The order also mentioned that the Range Forest Officer and the OC of Keibul Lamjao police station should appear before the Court of CJM Bishnupur on March 1.In her petition, Heisnam Momon expressed strong suspicion that her son died due to third degree method used by the personnel of Forest Department and police personnel while interrogating her son.

It mentioned that a case has been registered at Keibul Lamjao PS and three police personnel suspended while post mortem examination of Saratkumar’s body had been done at RIMS.  The CJM Court pointed out that if any person dies within the custody of police the death should be probed as per Section 176(1A)(a) of CrPC.

Notably, the same Court remanded Heisnam Saratkumar to the custody of Range Forest Officer, Keibul Lamjao National Park, Range II till 1 pm today.  However, the Range Officer has not made any formal intimation to the Court about the custodial death of Saratkumar nor has he appeared before the Court to explain why the accused could not be produced today. As such, there is a suspicion of committing an offence or foul play, mentioned the order.