The Government of Manipur, a provincial State of the Government of India has announced on 21st July 2016 to commission the much controversial Mapithel dam of the Thoubal Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project by September 2016 next. The Commissioning plan for Mapithel dam is despite its enormous scale of social and environmental impacts and procedural violations of human rights based development and despite the continued failure and serious underperformance of previously commissioned mega dams in Manipur, such as Khuga Dam, Khoupum Dam, Singda Dam, Loktak HEP project etc.
Earlier, the Irrigation and Flood Control Department (IFCD), Government of Manipur has commenced blocking the Thoubal River since January 2015. The blocking of Thoubal River already caused enormous hardship to indigenous communities, the Tangkhul Naga, the Kuki and the Meiteis in both upstream and downstream of the Mapithel dam site. The dam has led to inundation of residential areas, schools, churches, and paddy field, grazing grounds, forest areas of more than 2000 hectares approximately in Chadong village, Louphong, Lamlai Khunou, Ramrei, Riha and Thoyee villages etc. Of late, the entire school of United Christian Academy in Riha village has also been submerged. Drinking water pipelines of Ramrei, Riha and Thoyee were also submerged. Further, nine (9) suspension bridges serving as main lifelines and access of the affected villagers to their cultivable land and other survival sources were all submerged. The Mapithel dam reservoir has also claimed the lives of an elderly resident of Riha Village on 23rd July 2016, besides causing other health impacts.
The plan to commission the Mapithel dam is also despite the fact that key infrastructure for the Mapithel dam, irrigation canals, water supply components; hydro power generation infrastructure etc are far from completion, with minimal works in progress.The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is still yet to decide on its plans to finance the Water Supply component from Mapithel dam to Imphal Town. It is highly doubtful that the Mapithel dam will ever serve its purpose in the next ten years even if the dam is commissioned in September 2016, as as had happened with Khuga dam. As such, there is no reason to cause undue suffering and inconvenience to villagers by commissioning the dam.
The forced commissioning plan also constitute a clear violation of the recommendation of the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, Mr. James Anaya in the year 2009, urging the Government of India to seek the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and to end all forms of militarization in Mapithel dam site and surrounding areas.
KEY DEMANDS: The Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization (MDAVO) and the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM) would like to urge upon the Government of Manipur and the Government of India to:
1) Stop all plans for forced commissioning of Mapithel Dam of Thoubal Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project by September 2016
2) Review and investigate the failure and underperformance of all commissioned mega dams in Manipur, such as Khuga dam, Khoupum Dam, Singda dam, the Loktak Multipurpose project etc before commissioning of Mapithel dam
3) Stop Mapithel dam construction and ensure the free flow of Thoubal River.
4) Resume the Expert Review Committee (ERC) formed in 2008 and address all pending Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) and other impacts of Mapithel dam based on findings of the ERC before commissioning of the project.