India: Agartala declaration says no to dams

    Dimapur, February 11 2013: Environmentalists, social organizations and pressure groups have asserted that the land, forests, rivers and all natural resources in India's North East belong to the indigenous people of the region. This was echoed during a two-day consultation programme christened as "Indigenous Peoples Consultation on Dams and Natural Resources Protection in India's North East", which concluded today in Agartala.
    The event was jointly organized by the Borok Peoples Human Rights Organization, Committee on the Protection of Natural Resources in Manipur, North East Dialogue Forum, Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, Siang Peoples Forum, Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization, Peoples Movement for Subansiri Valley, Civil Society Women's Organization, All Loktak Lake Areas Fishermen Union, Affected Citizens of Teesta, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Save Sikkim, Initiative for Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples, Peoples' Right to Information and Development Implementing Society of Mizoram, Federation of Khasi, Jaintia and Garo People, All Assam Students Union, Save Mon Federation, All Zeliangrong Students Union, Hmar Inpui United Committee on the Protection of Natural Resources, All Tribal Students Union Manipur, Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti, Naga Women's Union.
    "Our land and all natural resources are inherent sources for our life, culture, identity, survival and future of our present and coming generations," the participants affirmed.
    They further affirmed that the indigenous peoples in the region have the right to self determination over their lands, territories and resources and they possess undeniable rights over its management and use.
    According to a press communication received here, the participants expressed their concern on the introduction of more than 200 mega dams and other 'unsustainable development policies and projects' in the region done without the consent of the indigenous peoples of the region.
    The participants then asserted that mega dam constructions that had already been commissioned such as Loktak Project in Manipur, Dumbur Dam in Tripura have already led to widespread dispossession, loss of lands, extinction of flora and fauna, demographic impacts on indigenous peoples in the region and other human rights violations.
    The environmentalists and pressure groups tool note of the ongoing and aggressive construction of mega dams such as 2700 MW Lower Siang HEP, 3000 MW Dibang HEP, 1750 MW Lower Demwe in Arunachal Pradesh, 1200 MW Teesta III HEP, 500 MW Teesta IV HEP, 97 MW Tashiding HEP, 280 MW Panang HEP etc in Sikkim, 1500 MW Tipaimukh HEP, 7.5 MW Mapithel Dam in Manipur, 2000 MW Lower Subansiri HEP, 600 MW Kameng HEP in Arunachal Pradesh which have already led to widespread dispossession, environment devastations, militarization, conflicts and human rights violations.
    They also seriously concerned with the projection of mega dams in India's NE as climate friendly and seeking carbon credits and profits by dam developers from CDM mechanisms of UNFCCC .
    The participants of the two-day event then expressed oncerned with the increasing corporatization of their lands and resources and the aggressive efforts to explore and drill oil in the region by corporate bodies, such as oil exploration efforts by Jubilant Energy in Manipur, Gas exploration in Tripura by ONGC, to mine uranium in Meghalaya by UCIL, etc.
    These groups also said they are concerned with the increasing militarization of indigenous peoples land while pursuing mega dams and other extractive industries and the complication of conflicts by the destructive development processes and subsequent human rights violations.
    The participants further said they are disturbed with the increasing involvement of international financial institutions, such as World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation etc in financing energy and water related projects and in deregulation of related policies to intensify corporatization of our land and resources.
    Finally, the organisers and participants of the Agartala event have expressed concern with the Government of India's non application of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 and the recommendations of other UN human Rights bodies, such as the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples and UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2007 and September 2011 to respect indigenous peoples' rights.
    They then recalled the obligations of all states to ensure participatory forms of development and to recognize indigenous peoples rights as reflected in the outcome of the UN Rio+20 Conference, June 2012 .
    download the declaration here
    Source: Hueiyen News Service / Newmai News Network