Friday, July 31, 2009

Tipaimukh dam only if affected people agree to it, say activists

Imphal, Jul 30:

The Tipaimukh dam should not be constructed without the free prior and informed consent of the indigenous people of all affected people in Manipur, Mizoram, Assam and further down in Bangladesh, said the Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD), Action Committee Against Tipaimukh Dam (ACTIP) and Committee on Land and Natural Resources (COLNAR).

While speaking during a press meet held today at the Manipur Press Club, the three organizations condemned the environmental clearance accorded by the ministry of environment and forest, government of India in 2008 despite the vehement opposition of the affected people to the public hearing on the proposed dam and also to the construction of the dam. They said that clearance despite the absence of a holistic and detailed impact assessment with due rightful participation of affected people construes disrespect to the indigenous people call for respect of people’s rights over their land and resources.

The government of India and Manipur government remained the only supporters of the construction of the Tipaimukh dam despite resistance from all sides, both down and upstream, which includes the mass anti-dam mobilization in Bangladesh and the recent resolution against the dam in the Barak valley in Assam demanding for abandoning the dam, said the three anti dam bodies while asserting that only a dictatorial government would continue with forceful implementation in defiance to the people’s call for respect of their rights and justice.

The anti dam bodies revealed that they would continue to fight against forceful damming of Barak river and resist any attempt to disregard and sacrilege their culture, economy and identity. They also said that any form of compensation or other benefits cannot replace what has evolved over generations. The dam if built would stand to represent an example of a repressive development, they said.

They also pointed out that the government of Manipur in the past had twice in the Assembly resolved that they would not allow the dam. But undemocratic processes that rule Manipur have led to the signing of MoU with NEEPCO, and now with NHPC without explaining to the people what these MoUs are.

On the visit of the parliamentary committee from Bangladesh, the bodies definitely welcomed them as representatives of their neighbours, but, however, added that the bodies would respectfully urge them to desist from any unilateral agreement with India. They informed that they would continue to work with the people living downstream to stop this dam from coming up and asserted that a series of agitations would be lined up if the dam is not scrapped immediately.

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