Imphal, August 12 2017: A public consultation on Loktak Project and Ithai Barrage and its impacts on climate changes was organised at the youth hostel of Khuman Lampak Sports Complex today, under the aegis of North East Dialogue Forum, ECO-Network, People’s Platform Secretariat, Social Action Committee and United NGOs Mission, Manipur.
The meeting resolved to pressure the Central as well the State Government to decommission the Loktak Hydro Power Project as well as the Ithai barrage to restore the ecosystem of the surrounding areas.
The meeting further resolved to form an expert committee to investigate the unethical actions of the NHPC regarding the project.
The participants also demanded judicial inquiry on NHPC for destroying the livelihood of the farmers and the fish farmers along with the failure to pay proper compensation.
Speaking at the meeting, secretary of Centre for Research and Advocacy, Jiten Yumnam said that the Loktak Multipurpose Hydro Electric project began under the supervision of the Ministry of Irrigation and Power, Government of India in the year 1971. NHPC has been operating the project ever since it was commissioned in 1983 along with Ithai barrage which was also constructed as a part of the project over the Manipur river.
He pointed out that the project which aims to generate 103 MW of electricity and irrigate 24,000 hectares of land, has adversely affected the ecosystem of Loktak lake and has also flooded around 80,000 acres of land.
Jiten Yumnam explained that various species of fish which used to migrate from Chindwin-Irrawady river system to Manipur river system have declined steadily after the construction of the Ithai barrage.
Various aquatic vegetables and edible plants have also vanished, he added.
The practice of keeping the water level of the barrage at 769 above the mean sea level all year round is the prime cause of frequent floods at both the upstream and downstream areas and the project has also led to a negative shift in the natural cycle of the phumdis.
Jiten Yumnam conveyed that the most unfortunate part of the situation is the lack of initiatives from either the NHPC or the Government of India to compensate the farmers, fish farmers and the affected people as well the failure to provide any kind of Rehabilitation and Resettlement policy.
He claimed that based on an RTI filed against NHPC on May 9, the company clarified that there were no written agreement between it and the State Government.
Jiten further asked if it is right to let the NHPC and the project continue further despite the apparent impact to the ecology of Loktak and its surrounding areas, which in fact had been declared a Ramsar Protected site.
Accusing the State Government of trying to hand over charge of Loktak Downstream Project and Tipaimukh Dam to a company with such negligence for the affected people, Jiten stressed on the need to pressure the authority concerned to decommission Ithai barrage.
Secretary of North East Dialogue Forum, U Nobokishore, Borayangbi Gram Panchayat pradhan, L Inaocha Meitei and former president of AMUCO, Dr Y Mani Khuman also spoke at the event.
The participants also shouted various slogans at the end of the event.