The Government of India has been pushing for construction of the proposed 1500 MW Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project (HEP) across Barak River in Manipur without the consent of indigenous Hmar and Zeliangrong communities of the area that will be affected by the project.
All of the five public hearings on the project held between 2004 and 2008 have ignored the voices of the communities violating their right to participate in the decision-making processes and the right to their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). India’s Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) also disregarded their rights and arbitrarily granted environmental clearance for the project. Further, a joint technical survey team of India and Bangladesh governments formed in 2012 excluded the communities from any form of representation in the conduct of their survey.
The project has put at stake the rights of indigenous Hmar and Zeliangrong communities to their lands, territories and resources, including their livelihood, traditional knowledge, cultural values and identity. A large number of Zeliangrong and Hmar people will be displaced permanently with the submergence of about 311 sq. KM covering 90 villages, affecting an area of nearly 2000 sq. KM. Official figures have kept on varying and an independent body is yet to verify the number of villages that will be affected by the project. It is believed that the impact of the project would be far more severe than claimed by the government, as several other villages would also be affected indirectly by the project.
Besides, the project will also have significant environmental impacts. The dam will submerge 25,822 hectares of forest in Manipur and 7.8 million trees and 27,000 bamboo groves will be felled according to the Forest Department of Manipur. These forested areas are critical habitats of birds and wildlife with many endangered species including gibbons, leopards, grey sibia, serow, barking deer and even the state bird of Manipur, the rufous-necked hornbill. The project will seriously affect these habitats and lead to the loss of those species.
Both NHPC and SJVNL have extremely poor environmental, social and human rights records from their previous projects. The NHPC, during its Teesta V HEP project repeatedly violated the environmental and forest laws dumping huge quantities of excavation debris into the river and surrounding areas, illegal clearance of forest land for housing and untreated sewage being released straight into the river. It also remains unaccountable for resettlement of the communities displaced by the Loktak HEP Project in Manipur.
Indian military, deployed to counter the armed struggle in Manipur seeking their right to self-determination, have publicly announced their support and for the protection for the Tipaimukh project. The pursuance of development aggression is further intensifying militarization and has aggravated the situation of human rights violations in Manipur.
The petitions, memorandums and letters to Indian authorities from the communities have all been ignored. We urgently need your support to protect the rights of the Hmar and Zeliangrong peoples that is being threatened by the Tipaimukh project.
This online petition has been initiated by Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, India and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) with Sinlung Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Organization, Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, Action Committee Against Tipaimukh Project, Committee on Land and Natural Resources, Naga Women's Union, All Zeliangrong Students Union and Zeliangron Students Union Manipur.