Newmai News Network
Imphal | March 14
Slogans such as “Protect our rivers”, “Save Thoubal River”, “Save our future” were used as people marched along the Thoubal River today where a huge dam has been constructed by the government amid protest from the people.
A group of people and activists from various organizations chose to observe this year’s International Day of Action for Rivers at Tumukhong village, few hundred metres away from Mapithel Dam, jointly organized by Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected People (MDDAP) and Citizens Concern for Dams and Development under the theme “Protect our Rivers! Save Thoubal River! Save our future” and “Let Thoubal River Flow Free, Not to commissioning of Mapithel Dam”.
Centre for Organisation Research and Education (CORE) chairman Dr Debabrata Roy Laifungbam, Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights member Keisham Pradip Kumar, CPNRM convenor Tingenlung Pamei, CRAM president Sanaton Laishram, Irabot Foundation assistant secretary Khunjamayum Gopen, NPMHR (South) member Hungyohung Hungyo, social activists Honreikhui Kashung and Dr Mamta Lukram participated the event as resource persons.
Dr Debabrata Roy said that the International Day of Action for Rivers is a day to celebrate victories such as dam removal and river restoration. “It is a day to take to the streets, demonstrate and demand improvements in the policies and practices of decision makers”, Dr Roy stated. “It is a day to educate one another about the threats faced by our rivers, and learn about better water and energy solutions”, he added. “Above all, it is a day to unite by acting together, we demonstrate that these issues are not merely local, but global in scope”, Dr Roy added. Dr Debabrata Roy further stated that the day is observed to promote a sustainable developmental model, especially alternatives to hydropower development, dam decommissioning and urbanization that impact the free flow of rivers and health for all.
According to Dr Roy, in Manipur the day will be an occasion “to celebrate, rejuvenate and revitalize the intrinsic relationship of indigenous communities with rivers and also the crucial roles of rivers in sustaining well being and livelihood of the community while conserving our natural heritage for future generations”.
Dr Roy then said that the Mapithel Dam has divided the people into two divisions as up- stream and down-stream. “That separation has broken the long relationship of villages which were bonded in the past many years. The dam affected not only environment but other people livelihood practices”, he added.
CRAM president Sanation Laishram highlighted the break-up percentages of water on the planet. Tingenlung Pamei said that development should be accepted by all sections of people. “However, the construction of railways and dams are not developments but they are destructive activities in the name of development”, Tingenlung stated.