Centre for Research and Advocacy Manipur, secretary, Jiten Yumnam said people might lose Loktak lake in some decades if proper action is not taken against the commissioning of Ithai barrage.
A public meeting was held today at Ningthoukhong bazar public community hall to demand decommissioning of Ithai barrage and Loktak project and investigation against NHPC. It was organised by Human Rights Forum Manipur (HRFM) and Youth Forum for Protection of Human Right (YFPHR).
Speaking on the occasion, Jiten as resource person said construction of Ithai barrage has caused more loss than good to the state and therefore the government should reconsider commissioning of Ithai barrage and Loktak power project.
He said the construction of Ithai barrage not only affected the upstream habitats but also the downstream. It was constructed as part of the Loktak hydroelectric project which submerged more than 80,000 hectres of agriculture land. It has brought a reverse picture in economic status of Manipur from a self-sufficient to borrower’s position with a large number of agricultural lands submerged underwater, Jiten added.
He said several indigenous fish have disappeared from Loktak lake such as Ngaton, Khabak, Pengba, Tharaak, Ngaaraa, Ngaatin, etc due to Ithai barrage. It has been observed that these fish migrated from the Chindwin river of Burma to the course of Manipur river towards Imphal river for breeding in the adjoining lakes and streams of Manipur valley.
Jiten further said Loktak project is also responsible for worsening climate change in Manipur by submerging the vegetation growth in Loktak wetlands. There are plans of National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) to renovate the Loktak power station to reap carbon credits from CDM of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is a clear false solution to climate change.
He claimed compensation of affected people during the commission of Loktak project and construction of Ithai barrage. The main cause of flood in the state is due to the construction of Ithai barrage, at the time of flood the gates of the barrage were opened at the time of emergency. The barrage was constructed with the assurance of benefit for the people but it is happening in a reverse manner. The solution to save the natural habitat of the state is to remove the barrage, Jiten claimed.
United NGO Mission Manipur (UNMM) secretary, U. Nobokishore further said it has been confirmed that there is complete absence of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the NHPC and the government of Manipur on the operation and functioning of the 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project, which was commissioned way back in 1984.
He said the non-existence of MOU on 105 MW Loktak Project has been confirmed by the NHPC on May 9, 2017 in response to an RTI filed by Joy Haobijam of Thanga. There is no regulation on the operation of Loktak Project which also indicates that the NHPC has been given a complete free hand without any monitoring, regulation and accountability mechanism.
Chairperson Ningthoukhong municipal council, Kangabam Mani Singh, Laishram Dwijamani Singh and president of Manipur Sahitya Parishad Bishnupur branch, Laishram Budhichandra Singh attended the meeting as chief guest, president and guest of honour.
The meeting resolved to appeal the central government to decommission the Loktak Hydro Electric Power Project immediately. NHPC should compensate all the destructions made since the commissioning of the project and it must be punished according to the rule of law.
After the public meeting a silent rally was taken ou in Ningthoukhong bazar area demanding decommissioning of Ithai barrage and Loktak project and to investigate against NHPC.