Stop Mapithel Dam construction NOW!
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Shri. Narendra Modi
Honorable Prime Minister
South Block, Raisina Hill
Dear Prime Minister Modi,
The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) write to express our deep concern regarding the construction of Mapithel Dam (Thoubal Multipurpose Project) by the Government of Manipur that threatens the survival of many tribals and non-tribals, and has resulted in the violation of their rights.
As you may be aware, the Mapithel Dam was approved by the Planning Commission of India in 1980 and it was originally slated to be completed in 1987. At its completion, the dam would affect more than 8,000 people in 22 villages. From information we received, the construction of the dam has been accompanied by widespread militarization of the area. There has been a history of illegal detention and torture of some villagers who have been defending their rights against the construction which has come without their free prior and informed consent. It has given rise to insecurity and fear among the villagers.
Construction started only in the 1990s and in clear violation of procedural and statutory requirements, the GOM applied for forest and environmental clearance only in 1998, almost two decades after the approval of the project and almost a decade after starting the construction. Further, while applying for the clearance, no proper assessment was done and none of the affected villagers were consulted as mandated by law. Despite these glaring irregularities, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) has given final clearance without any site assessments or visits to the affected areas. Under the Forest Rights Act and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, diversion of forestland without recognition of rights and consent of the villages is a crime. The actions of the GOM and the MOEF are also in direct violation of the Supreme Court's order in Orissa Mining Corporation vs. Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ors. (the Vedanta case).
We are informed that on 10 January 2015, the Government of Manipur began filling up portions of the river which had been diverted for the construction of the dam. This is despite the fact that the rehabilitation and resettlement process for the dam is not completed. Many villages directly affected by the dam has not been taken into account and many families of those in the official list of affected are yet to be compensated. The social and economic impact assessment which is a requirement is not properly done yet. The affected peoples have made numerous submissions to the appropriate authorities without any response.
There are also many people are still resisting the dam and refusing any package whatsoever. Meanwhile the water level has begun to submerge at least six houses in Chadong village and in spite of the urgent threat to the lives and livelihood of the affected peoples, the Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R & R) plan has not been finalized.
In 1990, an R & R was formulated but there were widespread protests against it. Therefore, in 1993 a Memorandum of Agreed Terms and Conditions (MOATC) was signed between some of the affected villagers and the Government of Manipur. However, this MOATC did not cover all the affected villages (none of the downstream villages were covered) and was also limited to private landowners within the submergence area. This left out many other villagers whose access to livelihood would be adversely impacted. In 1998, another R & R was formulated but this again was limited in terms of geographical coverage; only 6 affected villages are covered in this policy document leaving 16 affected villages out of its purview. This led to villagers demanding for a review of the R & R and in 2008, an Expert Review Committee (ERC) was formed to look into the holistic needs of the affected villagers. However, before the ERC gave any concrete recommendations, we are informed that the GOM has made it non-functional.
According to information received, in complete disregard for the rights of the affected villagers and the GOM’s own resettlement policy which states that the resettlement plan would be completed 1 (one) year before the completion of the dam, the GOM has issued notices in local newspapers for Chadong villagers to immediately evacuate the area, which is tantamount to forced eviction.
All these facts, prima facie, point to a systematic abuse of power and illegalities committed by the GOM. And for this we seek your attention for your urgent action on the following:
*Immediately halt the construction of the dam and immediately decommission the project;
*Immediately withdraw and stop the militarization of the area;
*Respect the right to Free Prior Informed Consent of the affected villagers who have already articulated their opposition to the dam construction;
*As top priority, urgently address the holistic needs of those whose houses are submerged and are going to be submerged.
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