Urgent appeal to stop the forceful eviction and involuntary relocation of indigenous villagers affected by the Mapithel Dam in Manipur, India

    135

    2 November 2012
    Dr. Manmohan Singh
    Prime Minister of India
    New Delhi, India

    SUBJECT: Urgent appeal to stop the forceful eviction and involuntary relocation of villagers affected by the Mapithel dam in Manipur

    Dear Sir,
    It came to our attention that the Government of Manipur is threatening to forcefully evict and relocate the villagers of Chadong, Lamlai Khullen in Ukhrul District of Manipur for the ongoing Mapithel Dam construction of the Thoubal Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project using law enforcement agencies of Manipur and Indian military. The controversial Mapithel Dam is being built over Thoubal River at the tri junction of Ukhrul, Senapati and Imphal East Districts of Manipur in India’s North East.

    The Government of Manipur issued an order on 28th September, 2012 constituting a “Joint Verification Team” to identify families affected by the ongoing Mapithel Dam construction at Chadong and Lamlai Khunou villages in Ukhrul District in Manipur. The order is highly problematic as the order undermines an earlier order of the same Government forming the Expert Review Committee on 18 January 2008 to assess the socio-economic, environmental, health, cultural, human rights impacts of Mapithel dam and also to resolve the rehabilitation and resettlement of affected communities.

    The Government of India forcefully began verification at Lamlai Khunou and Chadong Village in 29th October 2012 with full security despite the protest and objections of affected communities. The militarization of Mapithel dam construction is also being condemned widely. Affected villagers who protested against the dam construction are rather subjected to threats and harassments. On 3rd November 2008, more than forty people protesting against impacts of Mapithel Dam were brutality tortured by Indian Reserve Battalion.

    The Mapithel Dam construction commenced without taking free prior and informed consent of the affected villagers both in the downstream and upstream areas in 1978. No detailed Health, Environmental, Social, Cultural, Economic and seismic Impact assessment of the Dam on the peoples along the Thoubal River has ever been conducted.  The Mapithel Dam will lead to submergence of huge tract of prime agricultural land along the Thoubal River and created severe water shortage and livelihood impacts in villages in both upstream and downstream of Thoubal River, such as Tumukhong, Itham, Moirangpurel, Laikhong, and Saichang etc[2].  Affected Villagers are worried that the completion of the controversial verification will lead to their forceful eviction and involuntary relocation even.

    The arbitrary process of secretly negotiating with the government has already created division, conflict and chaos within the affected villages. The Government of Manipur with its efforts to forge secret agreement with few affected people without the consent of all affected communities, only violates right to free prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, which the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, Mr. James Anaya urged the Government of India for full adherence in his communication on Mapithel Dam on 24 June 2009[3]. India responded to Mr. James Anaya’s letter on 4 June 2010, maintaining that the Government had instituted the Expert Review Committee[4].

    The formation of the Expert Review Committee already raises high hopes among all affected peoples that the Mapithel Dam construction will be fully reviewed to address all their grievances and in securing social and environmental justice. It is crucial that there’s a complete review of the Project from the social, health, cultural, ecological, seismic, human rights, downstream point of view etc with due participation of all affected communities. The government of India should promote and protect the human rights of all indigenous peoples in its territories.

    We therefore urgently call upon the Government of Manipur and government of India:

    • To review the Mapithel Dam construction for holistic impact on indigenous communities along the Thoubal River and stop Mapithel dam construction till completion of such reviews
    • The Expert Review Committee on Mapithel dam formed on 18 January 2008 should be revived and resumed as per the wishes of all villagers affected by Mapithel dam with full reference for implementation of the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
    • The notifications of Government of Manipur on 28 September 2012 and the Cabinet Memorandum and Secret negotiations on 24 September 2011 for Rehabilitation and Resettlement of Mapithel Dam affected villagers should be revoked immediately.
    • Implement the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, Mr. James Anaya on Mapithel Dam, especially to take the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples for any decision on Mapithel dam construction  and to stop militarization
    • No forcible eviction and relocation of all communities affected by Mapithel Dam without their free, prior and informed consent as outlined in International Laws.
    • Implement the Recommendations of the World Commission on Dams for review of ongoing dam construction for its compliance with human rights, development and indigenous peoples’ rights
    • Fully implement all the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    CC:
    Mr. P. Chidambaram
    Home Minister
    Griha Mantralaya
    Room No. 104, North Block
    Central Secretariat, New Delhi 110001 INDIA
    Fax: +91 11 2301 5750, 2309 3750, 2309 2763
    E-mail: hm@nic.in

    Chairperson
    National Human Rights Commission of India
    Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
    New Delhi-110001
    INDIA
    Fax: +91 11 23340016
    E-mail: chairnhrc@nic.in

    Mr. Okram Ibobi Singh
    Chief Minister of Manipur
    New Secretariat Building
    Bapupara, Imphal, Manipur
    INDIA
    Fax + 91 385 2451398
    E-mail: cmmani@hub.nic.in

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