CRA co-organized community consultation on sustainable development & Environment Protection at Leibi Village in Eastern Manipur, 22 March.

Extensive logging in Tamei Sub-Division poses threats to livelihood of communities and health of Rivers

Water crisis looms large over Imphal valley as Singda Dam water level falls to alarming stage

The Imphal Free Press, 24 March 2021

Water crisis looms large over Imphal valley as Singda Dam water level falls to alarming stage (ifp.co.in)

By Thomas Ngangom |Updated on: March 24, 2021, 4:24 p.m.

IFP photo

People in urban areas of Imphal valley may face drinking water crisis in the next one month if annual monsoon is delayed as water level in Singda Dam has reduced to an alarming stage, said Ksh Tombi, state executive engineer water supply project construction division, public health and engineering department.

Speaking exclusively to the Imphal Free Press, Tombi said the water level of Singda dam has fallen to 8.96 metres, which is an alarming stage.

Water level of Singda dam is divided into three level. Of the total dam level of 34 metres, the first level is marked at 10 metres from the top of the dam and another 10 metres at the second level and the last level is marked with 14 metres. If the water level is reduced below the second level, it is considered as alarming stage, Tombi explained.

Tombi also said that Singda dam supply drinking water mainly in urban areas. It usually supplies 18.16 MLD (million litres per day) but with the reduced water level of the dam, only 9.5 MLD is supplied, that also in roster system.

Singda dam

(PHOTO: IFP)

A joint press statement issued by the public health and engineering department recently mentioned that “due to the drastic reducing of water level at Singda dam and drying up of Leimakhong river, which are the main source of raw water, the treatment plants at Singda, Kangchup and Kangchup Extension (WTPs) are unable to produce optimum quantity of treated water.

Taking precautionary measures by the department concerned, the areas covered by these water supply projects namely Phayeng, Lamsang to Naoremthong, Langjing area, Uripok, Nagamapal, Lamphel, Langol area, Sagolband area, Tera Sayang, Nepra Menjor supply zone, Thiyam leikai supply zone, Sangaiprou supply zone, Irom Pukhri zone, Haobam Marak zone, Chingtham leikai zone, Babupara, Keishamthong, Keishampat zone and Paona bazaar area will be highly affected, it added.

Th Pika Singh, EE Maintenance division, said the three treatment plants normally supply around 23.6 million litres of drinking water on daily basis to the commercial hub. Of the total, Over 9 million litres water are supplied through Singda plants and over 14 million litres through Leimakhong extensions. However, with the Leimakhong river almost dried up around we are rationing just over 6 million litres of dringking water through Singda after three days gap, said Pika Singh.

In view of it, Tombi appealed to the people in urban areas to use water for domestic purpose cautiously and to conserve drinking and domestic use water. If such practice is not carried before the monsoon rain arrives, then each household will have to start fetching water from far-flung areas and may face acute water crisis.

Officials from Porompat water supply department reported that they are supplying water for drinking and domestic purpose from the Iril and Imphal river. About a total of 80 MLD water is being supplied to the public, security forces including CRPF, BRTF, and for VIPs by getting token from the officials with the payment of Rs 12 per 1,000 litres of water.

On a daily basis, Porompat water supply delivers about 7/8 Tata DI water tanker; 22 security water tanker trucks and five Tata trucks for the public.

The Porompat water supply official appealed to the general public residing near Imphal and Iril river to stop blocking of running river water and using of private water pump sets.

Private water tankers with the capacity ranging from 1000 litres to above has increased the charge of water. On normal days, a private water tanker with the capacity of 2,500 litres reportedly charge Rs 450 per trip. However, the charge has increased to Rs 900 per trip recently.

If the annual monsoon rainfall is delayed the state may face water crisis not only for drinking but also for domestic and irrigation purpose.

To prevent drinking water scarcity, there is need for cooperation and understanding among public and cooperation from the concerned department related to environment and climate change, Tombi asserted.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Tuesday (March 23, 2021) chaired an emergency meeting called to review the present problem of water scarcity in urban areas of Imphal–Uripok, Thangmeiband, Keisamthong, Sagolband, Wangkhei, etc, due to the repairing works taken up in the Singda Dam and the drying up of other water sources.

According to T. Brajakumar, deputy director, directorate of Environment and Climate Change, experiencing shortage of water at this time of year is normal due to deficit in pre-monsoon rainfall. However, the severity has gradually increased over the past few years. This year too, he said, major catchment areas like Tamenglong, Churachandpur, Imphal West and East among others has witnessed over 90 percent pre-monsoon rainfall deficit.

During the meeting, it was decided that a Sub Committee would be constituted which would be headed by Administrative Secretary (Water Resources) with PCCF, Administrative Secretary (PHED), Engineer-in-Chief (Water Resources), Chief Engineer (Water Resources), Chief Engineer (PHED), Director (MAHUD) Executive Engineer (PHED-Maintenance Division-II) and DIG Range I as members.

The committee would conduct a survey of water scarcity areas and recommend and monitor steps for meeting the shortage.

It was also decided that Imphal Barrage would be shut down until water situation improves; water from Dolaithabi Barrage would be released to Iril River; dredging of riverbeds/dams would be taken up by Water Resources Department; PHED would deploy adequate number of water tankers by hiring from private agencies, etc.; commissioning of Chingkheiching Water Supply Project would be expedited; Water Resources Department would examine feasibility of constructing multiple low-level barrages on Imphal River, Iril River, Thoubal River and Kongba River; feasibility of conserving river water during the monsoon through more effective engineering mechanisms such as interlinking of rivers, etc. would be explored and scope for utilising the water of Barak River would also be explored. The chief minister further instructed all concerned to take up the matter on top priority.

International Day of Action for Rivers held along Barak River

The E-Pao.Net, 14 March 2021

14 March 2021 :

International Day of Action for Rivers held at Barak 20210315 (e-pao.net)

A weeklong celebration of the International Day of Action for Rivers 2021 was organized by the Centre for Research and Advocacy Manipur and the JAC against Pabram Dam from 10th till 14th March 2021.
A community meeting along the Barak River in Nheng (Langpram) Village on 11th March and community awareness visits in several villages in the catchment areas of Barak River and Irang River in Tamei areas of Tamenglong District from 12th till 14th March marked the international River day celebration.

The International River Day celebration has been organized considering the increased threats to the free flow and health of the Rivers in Manipur, due to large dam construction, removal of boulders and sand using heavy machineries, destruction of forest in catchment areas of Rivers, increased pollution of Rivers, and other unsustainable practices like using explosives, chemicals, invertor batteries for fishing etc.
During the Community meeting held along the Barak River at Nheng Village on 11th March, Mr. Enoch Newmai of the JAC against Pabram Dam shared that the Barak River has been targeted for construction of large dams.

He shared that the proposed 190 MW Pabram Hydroelectric Project and 67 MW Khongnem Chakha dam over the Barak River will entail widespread submergence of forest and agriculture land in villages like Luangdi Pabram, Nheng, Khunphung, Piulong, Dikiuram etc in Tamei areas. This will entail livelihood loss, destroy the fish species of Barak River and caused climate change in Tamenglong areas.

Mr. Jiten Yumnam of CRA, Manipur also shared that Rivers of Manipur are targeted for large dam construction, such as the Khongnem Chakha Dam, Pabram Dam, Irang Dam, Tipaimukh dam etc. Commissioned dams like Khuga dam, Mapithel dam, Loktak hydroelectric project already entailed much hardship to indigenous communities.

Removal of boulders and sands using machines and destruction of forest in catchment areas of major rivers already affected the free flow and health of Rivers of Manipur. The community meeting at Nheng called for the free flow of the Barak River and to stop the building of 190 MW Pabram Dam, 67 MW Khongnem Chakha dam, 1500 Tipaimukh dam etc over the River.

PIc:

 Stop Building Dams in Manipur - Let the Rivers Flow free - River Day 2021 at Nheng (Langpram) Village, Manipur

The community awareness visits in several villages noted with concern the widespread logging of forest areas in the catchment areas of Irang River and Barak River in Tamenglong areas. The River day Celebration is marked by call for free flow of all Rivers, to abandon dam building and stop unsustainable practices affecting the health and life of Rivers and further to protect the forest in catchment areas of Rivers and to uphold indigenous peoples’ intrinsic relationship with Rivers, land and forest in Manipur.

 Stop Building Dams in Manipur - Let the Rivers Flow free - River Day 2021 at Nheng (Langpram) Village, Manipur
Stop Building Dams in Manipur – Let the Rivers Flow free – River Day 2021 at Nheng (Langpram) Village, Manipur

Could Uttarakhand Glacier Disaster Have Been Prevented?

HIMANSHU THAKKARPublished: 08 Feb 2021

The Quint

Uttarakhand Glacier Burst: Why Haven’t Past Lessons Been Learnt? | OPINION (thequint.com)

Indian Army rescue mission to save those trapped in the longer tunnel. Image from Chamoli, Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand, unfortunately, is no stranger to disaster. But yet another massive tragedy struck the Himalayan state on 7 February 2021, the least expected on a cold winter Sunday morning; at least ten people have so far been confirmed dead, and about 170 are missing — besides, several dams, roads, houses, bridges and other infrastructure have been destroyed or damaged.

There is however, a tragedy within that tragedy. Almost a day after the tragedy started unfolding around 10 AM, forget the question of getting prior warning for disaster prevention or minimisation efforts, there is still no clarity on where exactly the disaster originated, when exactly it originated, what factors led to that, and what was the magnitude at the place of origin.

The Uttarakhand government agencies are talking about ‘glacier bursts’, the NTPC (developer of the damaged 520 MW under-construction Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower project) is talking about an ‘avalanche’, and still others are talking about the ‘bursting of water pockets in the glaciers’, ‘cloud burst’, etc — with neither clarity nor details about any of these hypotheses.

Monitoring Of Vulnerable, Disaster-Prone Zones Is Abysmal

To effectively tackle any disaster, getting credible, specific, timely information is the first essential step, and we are faltering time and again in that first step. Once you have that information, you still need a workable disaster management plan and a mechanism that ensures that such a plan can be implemented.

But what is clear from this and earlier such incidents is that our monitoring of known vulnerable areas is highly inadequate.

The likely scenario, built from available information from various reliable sources is that the catchment area of the Rishiganga river in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand around the Nandadevi Biosphere reserve, received substantial snowfall (the monitoring and dissemination of snowfall is a major grey spot in or meteorology apparatus) last week.

On Sunday morning (and possibly a day earlier too) there was an avalanche leading to the sliding down of a huge snow mass into a glacial lake or water pocket in the glacier, leading to the breaking off of that water body. What flowed downstream then was that mass of water and snow along with huge amount of debris that is known to be part of glaciers and the para-glacier areas.Also Read‘India Stands With Uttarakhand’: Politicos on Chamoli Flash Flood

Talks Of ‘Preparedness’: An Exaggeration

We, including our governments, possibly first came to know about it only when Reni village, the birthplace of the Chipko movement of the 1970s, was hit by the front of this flowing storm down the Rishiganga river. It led to the washing away of several houses and people in Reni village, some of the people being those grazing their animals close to the river.

The first obstacle in the way of the storm was a barrage on the river which collapsed in a few seconds. The next obstacle was the 13.2 MW existing Rishiganga hydropower project, which was also devoured by the storm in a matter of seconds. The Rishiganga then entered the Dhauliganga river. Further downstream was the dam of the under-construction of Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower project of NTPC, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The storm did not take too long to flow over and destroy that too. In the process, the water and debris also entered the under-construction tunnels of the project, where a large number of workers were trapped.

The storm flowing in Dhauliganga river further downstream entered the Alakananda river at Vishnuprayag. Here at Joshimath, the Central Water Commission Flood forecasting (that was blank and silent till SANDRP tweeted about its silence) tells us, that by 11 AM, the water level had reached a massive 3.11 m above the previous Highest Flood Level achieved during the 2013 floods.

There is the under-construction 444 MW Vishnugad Pipalkoti dam here funded by the World Bank; there are some reports that suggest that this THDC project and another existing 400 MW Vishnuprayag project may also be damaged. The stormy river stabilised further downstream as it entered a relatively flat terrain.

The ‘preparedness’ along the Ganga till Varanasi etc — talked about by the authorities — was clearly far-fetched.

Impact Of Human Intervention In Vulnerable Ecologies

It should be noted here that this is not an entirely natural disaster. On breaching of each of the obstacles that the storm faced along its way, the storm flowed downstream with greater power, gathering a greater amount of debris. A number of human activities thus added to the disaster impact.

The maximum damage and casualties are in this region from Reni village along the Rishiganga to Dhauliganga to Alaknanda till a few kilometres downstream of the Joshimath. The hydropower projects listed above and the en route villages are likely to have experienced the maximum casualties. The Uttarakhand Chief Minister also talked about the under-construction railway and roads in this area, where too workers could have been trapped or flooded.

While Uttarakhand has seen such events in the past too, there is no doubt that this disaster bears the stamp of climate change, with regard to the origin of the storm. But the amount of damage this storm wreaked and the casualties along the way has the clear signature of the impact of human intervention in the region.

Big hydropower projects, massive roads, railway lines and encroachments of the river banks and beds are all an invitation for bigger disasters. These interventions are known to happen without either a credible impact assessment or preparedness or disaster management plans.https://7031c75ca0f6183055367ff6dbf027e5.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Exemplary Rescue Ops, But Non-Existent Disaster Management Mechanism

There is no confidence-inspiring assessment of the disaster-potential of the area and how our interventions are increasing that disaster-potential. On the contrary, the projects indulge in all kind of violations including use of dynamites and dumping of millions of cubic meters of muck in the river.

The big hydropower projects were never ecologically viable or socially acceptable in this region. Now they are not even economically viable with cheaper sources of electricity available. And yet, with massive expenditure of public money and resources, these disaster-accelerating interventions keep being pushed through.

Our rescue operations have been exemplary, as could again be seen in this event.

However, this episode also exposes our practically non-existent disaster management mechanisms (which go far beyond the post-disaster rescue) and our inability to learn lessons from the past.

So, for example, the worst disaster that Uttarakhand faced was in June 2013; but even today there is no report that tells us what actually happened in that disaster, what factors played a role, what lessons we can learn and how we can translate them into practice. What it means is that we have no system of learning lessons from such disasters. And that possibly is our bigger disaster in this disaster, like the tragedy described earlier, within this tragedy.

(Himanshu Thakkar is an expert with the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP). This is an opinion piece, and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

‘Development Aggression: Rethinking India’s Neoliberal Development in Manipur’ released

The Imphal Free, 6 February 2021

‘Development Aggression: Rethinking India’s Neoliberal Development in Manipur’ released (ifp.co.in)


The book entitled “Development Aggression: Rethinking India’s Neoliberal Development in Manipur” written by Jiten Yumnam was released in Imphal Friday. The book was launched at the one-day interaction on sustainable development organised by the United Voluntary Youth Council (UVYC) and CRAM at the Manipur Press Club, Imphal.

Editor of Imphal Review of Arts and Politics, Pradip Phanjoubam; editor in-chief of Impact TV, Yumnam Rupachandra; Aja Daily editor Valley Rose; co-chairperson of Citizens Concern for Dams and Development Aram Pamei; president of All Manipur Women’s Voluntary Association Yumkhaibam Kunjarani attended the event.

Speaking at the occasion, Pradip Phanjoubam said the book provides a lot of information on sustainable development and it would be useful as a reference book for students. He then said that sustainable development goal could be achieved only when people start to feel for the ecology.

Jiten Yumnam, who is also a well-known environmentalist, said the book was written from his own field experiences. He said that indigenous rights and UN SDGs are necessary and complementary for growth, progress, social equity and peace.

“The government should recognise the role of the indigenous systems in addressing the problems related to biodiversity, culture diversity, poverty, conflict resolution, food, ecology and climate change,” He said.

The government should create sustainable development models in pursuing development works. Jiten called for a discourse on alternative development, sustainable, respect of human rights, and accountability form of development processes.

Rupachandra said that any development work should take into consideration people’s interests. “We need to create a narrative where interests and well being of the people is taken into consideration, “he said. Scientifical study and approach is required in narrating issues, Rupachandra added. 

Cancel proposed Mega Food Park project at Yaithibi Loukol: Land owners to government

The Imphal Free Press, 8 February 2020

Cancel proposed Mega Food Park project at Yaithibi Loukol: Land owners to government (ifp.co.in)

The 44-Yaithibi Loukol Farmers and Landowners Development Association has demanded cancellation of the proposed Mega Food Park project at Yaithibi Loukol in Thoubal district of Manipur at the earliest.

Speaking to media persons at a press conference held at Koijam village on Sunday regarding the protection of agricultural land at Yaithibi Loukol, association president Kh Romenkumar stated that the state government should immediately cancel the proposed project of Mega Food Park at Yaithibi Loukol.

Citing why the land owners are opposing the project, Romenkumar said that the project site is a paddy field or agricultural land owned by the members of the association. He also recalled that in the said paddy field the state government, when O Ibobi was the chief minister, attempted to construct the National Sports University under certain agreement with the farmers and landowners. Since the proposed construction of NSU was shifted to another location, the members of the association submitted several representations to the authorities concerned to return the selling price of the land as setting up of the Sports University had been withdrawn by the Centre, he added.

Saying that the members of the association had also approached the High Court regarding the matter, he added that the members were then pleased when an interim order was passed to maintain and continue status quo to the possession and occupation of Yaithibi paddy fields.

“The paddy fields are the souls of the farmers and the livelihoods of the association members are solely dependent on the produce of such agricultural lands,” Romenkumar said.

He continued that the association is willing to return the compensation received from the state government for the National Sports University which has been shifted from 44-Yaithibi Loukol to Senjam Chirang. Also the government is urged to give back the land meant for the National Sports University to the farmers, he added.

For all these reasons, the association is demanding to cancel the proposed Mega Food Park Project at Yaithibi Loukol to safeguard and maintain the livelihood of the present and future generations of farmers, Romenkumar stated.

Taking part at the press conference, secretary of Centre for Research and Advocacy, Jiten Yumnam said that the proposed ‘Mega Food Park’ project violates the Manipur Conservation of Paddy Land and Wet Land Act 2014. It threatens the livelihood of farmers and the government should consult the farmers before the project was taken up, he added.

He also called upon the people to fight collectively to save Yaithibi Loukol at any cost. It may be mentioned that the government plans to construct 100 acre-Mega Food Park, 150 acre-Logistic Park and 100 acre-Jewellers Park at Yaothibi Loukol after the proposed NSU had been shifted at Senjam Chirang.

The press conference was also attended by farmers from Sora, Laiching Minou, Langthabal Khunou and Koijam village. 

Questions over commissioning Mapithel Dam

Jajo Themson,

The Sangai Express, 21 January 2021

It’s good news for public of Manipur that the long chronic Mapithel dam of Thoubal Multipurpose Project has been officially inaugurated on 27th December, 2020 Sunday. The same was achieved after long exhaustive efforts of the concerned Department IFCD, now Water Resource Department (WRD), Govt. of Manipur to commission the project. The official inauguration program was conducted at Hapta Kangjeibung, Imphal Manipur in the presence of Shri Amit Shah, Union Home Minister and Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State for DoNER-Independent Charge.

With the Mapithel dam project the project aims to harness three units of power @2.5 MW with gross generation plan of 7.5 MW, drinking water supply @10 MGD to Imphal city and irrigation command @ 33,449 hectares in Thoubal district. Remarkably, it has taken 40 long years of construction, investment made @ over Rs. 1387.85 crore as per latest project cost escalation and final investment clearance from the Niti Aayog, Govt. of India, dated 12th September, 2012, the project caused loss of above 2000 hectares of prime agricultural land, forest, river, homestead areas, ancestral homes and grazing fields in the upstream area.

Besides this, ecosystem and natural environment of the region were either drastically changed or lost. Principal livelihood sources of above 12,000 populace in the upstream and thousands in the downstream region had been sacrificed for the project willingly or unwilling.

Series of successive targets were set for completion of the Mapithel dam project. The 1st commissioning target was-August 1987, the 2nd was-October 1994, the 3rd was-March 2002, the 4th was-March 2007, the 5th was -March 2013, the 6th was-31st March 2015, the 7th was -September 22, 2016, the 8th was – year ending of 2016, the 9th was – 31st March 2017, the 10th was announced on 1st April 2017 and the 11th one was in March, 2018.

Shall we call inauguration of Mapithel dam, success of the project ? Literally, it is a pronouncement of hay-day for general public that a mega development project has been commissioned. It manifests harvest is at hand. Consequently, public have high expectation to enjoy the decades long awaited fruit of the project.

However, there is a big question to be answered. The apparent question is “Is the Mapithel dam project really functioning and harnessing its targeted goals benefitting the public?” Or, is it following the same old stories of immature projects inauguration while no benefit generated ? In a very remarkable way, all the key components of the Mapithel dam project still remain incomplete.

Hydro-power generation plan

One of the main components of the Mapithel dam Project is to install a power house for generating 3 Units of 2.5 MW each of power installed capacity @ 7.5 MW. The actual position of installation of hydro-power generating part is at the initial stage till now. The turbine construction portion is hampered by continuous water logging from leakages at the immediate back wall of the dam.

This may take either at least some more years or inability to construct as the portion is considerably hindered by water leakages. As per reply of the Chief Engineer, IFCD, Manipur on 22nd June 2017, state Govt. is yet to consult to the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) when Irrigation and water supply components will be completed.

Irrigation component

Water supply for irrigation is another key component of the Mapithel dam project. The project is targeted to irrigate 33,449 hectares of irrigation potential area in Thoubal district. However, it was surprising to learn that no remarkable progress of Irrigation canal could be seen during a field visit in May 2017, while the report of the Chief Engineer, IFCD dated 22nd June 2017 claimed to have done 99% seem misinforming.

The proposed Heirok branch canal of Thoubal Left Main canal through prime agricultural land is strongly opposed by the people of Heirok. Villagers are condemning they don’t agree with the Government’s proposal for land acquisition to construct the 100 ft wide canal. Moreover, existence of original targeted irrigation potential area in Thoubal district 40 years back is questionable.

Water Supply component

Supply of drinking water is another major component of the dam. As reported by the staffs of Hyderabad based Company -Coastal Projects Limited, construction of tunnel drill takes one and half year to cover 1185 meters out of 2280 meters since December, 2015. The remaining 1095 meters i.e 49% is likely to take at least another 17/18 months on tunnel drilling.

Moreover, there has been unofficial report that there is severe problem of inability of water to reach the transit reservoir at Chingkheiching from Laikoiching. Thus, it is highly questionable as to whether safe drinking water will reach Imphal city or not as per the status updated by the Chief Engineer, IFCD, Manipur on 22nd June 2017 to complete Water Supply Plan within 4 months.

Poor dam quality

Questions have also been raised on the quality of the construction of the dam. Tumukhong villagers disclosed that laborers randomly filled up the dam with whatever rocks, woods, stones etc. found nearby. Water leakages through 6 major portions were detected at the immediate back wall of the dam since 2015.

The leakages mainly happened at the turbine installing area, Spillway portion and some others at the higher level of the back wall. Addl. Chief Engineer, IFCD in an interview on 10th May 2017 clarified that leakages in the dam is risky if the water seepages become murky with mud. It is undeniable that Mapithel dam is at risk.

Development of multiple earth fissures

Multiple earth fissures and cracks have developed at Maphou/Phayang, Senapati district and Louphong village in Kamjong district. More dreadful situation is several cracks at Maphou Kuki village which was newly resettled.

The most serious case with this incident at Maphou Kuki is either due to cutting of the foot of the mountain on spillway construction and approach road which led to the mountain’s inability to withstand repeated quakes caused due to numerous bomb explosion in the tunnel drilling just at the southern foot of the village or water seepage into rocks beneath the mount, observing high possibility of sliding down the whole mount which can lead to dam collapse. It is highly suspected if the project will be useful in the long run.

Failed CAT Plan

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 suffering critical damage due to a plethora of reasons where soil erosion has attained serious proportion. On top of this, no action steps have ever been initiated under Catchment Area Treatment (CAT) plan according to the Forest Department in February 2016 which still remains the same.

The pertinent question here is, “Will the Mapithel dam water reservoir sustain water without regulating the Catchment areas ? The same reminds one of the condition of Singda dam which drastically reduced its expected life span as well as factor of its failure accredited to unprotected catchment areas.

Absence of Holistic Impacts Assessment (HIA)

Blocking of the Yangwui Kong/Thoubal River was done without conducting Holistic/Detailed Impacts Assessment (DIA) covering socio-economy, cultural, livelihood, health, environment & ecology and precautionary measures therewith.

Unwarranted dimensional submergence of residential area, wet paddy field, houses, Churches, school buildings, community hall, homestead areas, low lying forest, animal grazing field and means of transportation had given untold hardship to the affected villagers leading to incredible worsening of their living standard.

Forest Clearance unresolved

Mapithel dam is still marred with acquiring mandatory Forest Clearance from the Central Ministry of Environment and Forest-Climate Change (MoEFCC). Issue of forest diversion @ 595 hectares in respect of Mpithel dam is yet to be resolved.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Eastern Bench, Kolkata passed final judgment on 6 December, 2017 in favor of the affected villagers, directing the State respondents to comply with the necessary conditions contained in the Forest Rights (Recognition of Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers Right) Act, 2006.

Instead of carrying out the order, the State respondents filed an appeal before the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the early part of 2018. Thus, commissioning of the dam during pendency of forest issue is a violation. The case lies pending before the said Court till date.

Inconclusive R & R program

One of the most important and serious issues of a dam project is Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R & R) program for the affected people. It is the most controversial part which includes social displacement, relocation and rehabilitation of the affected people. There has been no comprehensive conclusion of R & R issue of Mapithel dam till date. Thus, inauguration of the project without solving the RR matter is untimely, inhuman and irrational.

Undermined rights of the indigenous people

The IFCD, Govt. of Manipur even fails to frame up rights safeguard policy in respect of the affected tribal communities of Mapithel dam over their land, forest, river and resources etc. Such traditional rights of indigenous villagers have not been ascertained. This exposes a flagrant violation which undermines the legal framework of India enshrined in Article 338A of the Indian Constitution.

The whole process of conceptual framework, investigation, submission of feasibility report and inception of Mapithel dam construction were done without Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of the affected communities.

Absence of alternative livelihood arrangement

The WRD, Govt. of Manipur as project agency blatantly failed to arrange alternative livelihood means for the affected villagers, who sacrificed their inter-generational important land, river, forest and resources that sustained their lives.

The massive inundation unleashed adverse impacts on the livelihood and survival of villagers losing food sovereignty in the affected area. At the same time, community people living in the downstream villages suffer from shortage of water, curtailing livelihood such as fishing, agriculture and seasonal collection of sand and stone from the River.

Conclusion

It is fine the Mapithel dam project has been commissioned now even inspite of numerous hue and cry of the public in general and the affected villagers in particular. However, in addition to irrationality of commissioning this project like discussed above, there is still another big question mark regarding responsibility and accountability of the project.

Who is taking responsibility for completion of the immature project parts while the project is already commissioned ? Who will account for success or failure of the dam project ? It is highly suspected Mapithel dam follows the same living examples of previous dams which were left unattended after inauguration.

Or, is Mapithel dam creating another story of previously failed dam projects like Dolaithabi Barrage commissioned in August 2019 which remained fruitless, total flopped Khoupum dam in Tamenglong, rusted Singda dam and gross ineffectual Khuga dam in Churachandpur district which were either left abandoned in complete futility or marooned after commissioning them.

Crores of Rupees have been spent, consumed 40 years in its construction, indigenous villagers have surrendered their right over their invaluable land, forest, river, resources loving ancestral homes for the project, their principal livelihood sources have been sacrificed, the dam had caused unfathomed dimension of hardship to land donors and still they don’t have hope of betterment in the future.

What is expected by the general public is not the name sake commissioning of project, but the positive outcomes. Making development projects as a gamble for getting political mileage as well as construing achievement records ought not be appreciated by public.

If it is not functioning and harnessing the targeted benefits, why should public money be wasted and people made to suffer for such unsustainable project ! It is quite irrational and unfair that the affected people face undue suffering and a devastated environment for the project like Mapithel dam which is not functioning.

If it is not serious, let the Yangwui Kong/Thoubal River return to its natural flow. These are the core concerns why the affected villagers along with the right wings have been relentlessly striving since 1990s.

It is right to assert that Mapithel dam of Thoubal Multipurpose Project has become another history of White Elephant project installed in Manipur. Time has come, public realise the unsustainability of such dams and hydropower projects from the past and present Mapithel case.

Moreover, decommissioning all the unsustainable futile dams projects including Mapithel dam would be the right solution towards sustainable and development justice in the State.


* Jajo Themson wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer may be reached at thmsontezonge(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on January 22 2021.

Chadong reels under water shortage, lack of basic amenities

 The Sangai Express, 09-Jan-2021
Chadong reels under water shortage, lack of basic amenities – The Sangai Express – Largest Circulated NewsPaper in Manipur

By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Jan 9: After the commission of the Mapithel Dam had completely sub-merged their original settlement under water, Chadong villagers are now facing water shortage even though it is not far from the dam.


Their new settlement, Chadong village in Kam-jong district is about 45 Kilometres from Imphal. When a team of media persons visited the village today, Ahao Cachhar, chair- man of the village authority said the locals are facing water shortage and they lack basic needs.

The original settlement of the villagers was completely submerged under water in 2014 after the Mapithel Dam was constructed and commissioned. Many of the villagers are scattered across Manipur in different places, like Imphal, Senapati and Yaingangpokpi etc and they are not able to return, said the village chairman.
Ahao further said that road connectivity in the village is pathetic and the condition worsens during rainy season. During the rainy season, the roads are slippery and knee-deep with mud causing  accidents to commuters. During the dry season, the roads are filled with dust causing health hazards to the commuters. The villagers on the eastern and the western banks of the water body are connected via boats, but this mode of transport is a problem to women and children.
On drinking water provision, Ahao said there is no system or infrastructure to provide drinking water to the villagers.
“Even though there is a large water body in the vicinity, the villagers are buying drinking water. 500 litres of water costs Rs 250,” Ahao said adding that the water body is about 3 Kilometres from the village and is difficult for women and children to fetch water.
Successive Governments have failed to implement and honour the agreement that was reached between the villagers and then Chief Minister Rishang Keishing regarding the Mapithel Dam. The Government had promised infrastructure development, livelihood and source of income for the villagers, Ahao said.

In 2014, there were about 450 households but now it has increased to more than 500.  Before displacement, the villagers in the original settlement were able to reap benefits of the fertile soil of the river banks. The villagers successfully tilted land and agriculture flourished earning the villagers huge and substantial income. But now the villagers are unable to grow most of the crops other than ginger and banana plants on the hill slopes.
“Rs 1 lakh was promised per one acre of land and the Government has been paying the total amount on instalment basis. The Government has paid upto 8th instalment,” Ahao said.
On education sector, Ahao said the original settlement had a Primary School built under a 1993 scheme which could have been upgraded to High School level.
Even though a new Primary School (under the 1993 scheme) has been constructed at the new Chadong village but it still has not been inaugurated yet. The school should be inaugurated at the earliest and upgraded to high school level to cater to the needs of the locals, Ahao said, adding that the Primary Health Sub-Centre and Anganwadi Centre of the village are also lacking in all fronts.

The villagers need to have access to the basic needs of a society. They need proper schemes and sources of livelihood to improve their lives that have been displaced by the Mapithel Dam, Ahao said, urging the Government for all possible assistance.

https://www.thesangaiexpress.com/Encyc/2021/1/9/By-Our-Staff-ReporterIMPHAL-Jan-9-After-the-commission-of-the-Mapithel-Dam-had-completely-sub-merged-their-original-settlement-under-water-Chadong-villagers-are-now-facing-water-shortage-even-tho.html

Against ring road plan

The Sangai Express, 3 December 2020

Against ring road plan : 03rd dec20 ~ E-Pao! Headlines (e-pao.net)

Imphal, December 02 2020: The JAC against the construction of ring road connecting Ipum Mapal Khurai Konsam Leikai has warned the State Government of intense agitation if the proposed ring road plan is not withdrawn immediately.

Pic: Proposed Route – Imphal Ring Road Project

During a press conference held today at Manipur Press Club, convenor of the JAC which is formed by three affected leikais, Yaikhom Biken said that the proposed ring road plan of the State Government is set to affect densely populated localities filled with structures and houses.

With the State Government incorporating the road connecting Ipum Mapal in the ring road project, the State Government is set to vacate houses and also fill parts of historically significant Ipum part, he said while adding that the residents of three affected leikais strongly oppose the State Government’s plan.

The SDO at Porompat issued an order today to vacate the only community hall of three localities, a meira shang and YOSC club in line with the ring road project, he said. The order informed localities that the State Government will initiate eviction, he said while adding that the order further apprised them to vacate houses in the second phase.

He also suggested the Government to drop Ipum Mapal road from the proposed plan to connect Heingangkhong with Pangei Road to Ipum Mapal towards South before linking Ukhrul road in the North.
It would be better and length of the road will be shortened if the Government considers connecting Pangei road directly with Ukhrul road via paddy fields between the said points instead of displacing properties and structures along Ipum Mapal road, he suggested.

Appealing to consider another route, he urged the State Government to reconsider its decision of incorporating the Ipum Mapal road in the ring road project. If the Government fails to pay heed to their appeal and withdraw their proposed plan, the JAC is set to launch agitations from December 2-December 3 midnight onwards, he continued.