Call to scrap failed dams in Manipur

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.

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