Stop Mapithel dam works: Villages

Dimapur, April 4 (MExN): Villages affected by the Mapithel Dam in Manipur had demanded immediate stop to construction works. An organization, Mapithel Dam Affected Villages Organization (MDAVO), issued a copy of a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Expert Review Committee Government of Manipur stating the demand.
The organization has expressed concern over the ongoing Expert Review constituted by the Governor for rehabilitation and resettlement of villages affected by the Mapithel Dam. The organization said the proceedings of the 7the ERC meeting of February 11, 2011 mentioned the “the ERC shall again re-examine the terms of reference (TOR) submitted by MDAVO to ERC and the Chief Secretary, GOM”.
“From the above it seems to us that the ERC seem to not have understood what a TOR is. TOR to MDAVO is to guide the review process and is not our submission to ERC per se. Further, it said that ‘After re-examination of the same the ERC shall recommend their findings to the Government for obtaining approval. And the Government of Manipur shall enter into an agreement with the MDAVO for speedy implementation of the RR programme of the villages affected due to the construction of Thoubal Dam’”.
‘Given the above progress made on the TOR it will be setting the clock back if the government does not approve the TOR after their re-examination. This will also mean that the Review visits in the past would become meaningless.’
The organization also reiterated that construction on the dam must cease now until the Expert Review is continuing its review process, until the agreed new RR plan is approved and comprehensively implemented.
“As per the Rehabilitation Plan for the Oustees, 1998, prepared by the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, GOM for Thoubal Multipurpose Project (Mapithel Dam), Page no 58 Para 8, it is stated clearly that ‘The Rehabilitation plan will be completed before one year of the completion of the project”. In addition, the Government has accepted the TOR No.12 which demands that the ‘Rehabilitation and Resettlement should be completed at least one year before any submergence takes place’.
The organization took note that the timeline for completion of the project is now slated for March 2012. “This is the reply by IFCD Minister Mr Biren in his Assembly reply to a question by Mr Shyamkumar, MLA,” the MDAVO.
Citing these points, the MDAVO demanded stop to the construction on the dam immediately and resume work only after the comprehensive Review process and Implementation is complete. “This is critical for affected people as this is the only last hope for survival and for gaining a respectable life after being displaced. This issue is taken very seriously at the village meetings,” the organization stated.
The organization said that the government must be allowed to first provide its approval to the TOR so that there is no misunderstanding in the future.
“MDAVO has been extending our utmost support, however, we notice lack of serious research and review process. We would like to see more rigor in social, cultural, economic impacts assessment, and how villages after their displacement can have their better lives,” it added.