Assam org urges Manipur to rethink Tipaimukh project
Imphal | September 9 : An organisation from Assam has urged the Manipur government to reconsider its decision on the Tipaimukh project. The Committee on Peoples and Environment (COPE) said that the people of both Barak Valley and Manipur will be affected once the project comes up.
In a lengthy memorandum submitted to the chief minister of Manipur today, the representatives of the COPE including Piyush Kanti Das, S. Herahit Singha and Jishnu Datta said that the governments of Manipur, Assam, NEEPCO or NHPC never took any public consent in the downstream and never made any survey in the downstream impacts. We, the people of Barak valley feel, for many reasons, that, construction of Tipaimukh dam is entirely against the people both in the upstream and downstream. And therefore, we request you to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding for the sake of the people of Manipur, Assam, Mizoram and Bangladesh.
"With due respect and humble submission, we, the undersigned representatives of a few organizations of Barrack valley (Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts) of Assam seek to place the memorandum before your honour for actions to be taken kindly as you think fit and proper. We also like to reveal that whatever is written here, in true sense, reflects the opinion of the masses of Barak Valley and lives of the people of both Barak Valley and Manipur will be affected by the actions of your kindness," the representation to O.Ibobi Singh said.
It mentions that since the commissioning of Loktak Hydro-electric Project in 1983, the water which is released from the spillway of the project is released through a tunnel constructed for the propose in the Thangjing Hills and released into the flow of the Leimatak river (Alias Apin river) near Lonjang (A Rongmei Naga village); the Leimatak river is a tributary of the Irang river and Irang, again, is a tributary of the Barak river. Thus the water released into Leimatak river, gets into the flow of Barak regularly and worsens the flood situation in Barak valley every year. In fact, before the commissioning of loktak Hydroelectric Project, flood was never a regular phenomena in Barak valley occurring with the gap of more than year 10 years in between every two floods. After the commissioning of the Loktak project the water release of the Loktak project in the water network of Barak, flood has become a regular phenomena in Barak valley. Therefore, evidently the clandestine trespass of water into Barak is the real cause behind regular flood in Barak valley, it added.
The Loktak catchment area, that is, Imphal-Nambol-Iril river catchment area and Barak catchment area are quite distinct and separate by the Tangjing Hills. In such a eco-natural set-up it is beyond the established rules and norms to stealthily release the water of one catchment area into the river of other catchment areas. The Loktak authority never announced the release of water into Barak. And so, we, the people of Barak valley have reason to apprehend conspiracy behind the whole matter. And, we demand, immediate closure of the release of loktak water into Barak.
The Barak catchment area in the upstream in Manipur in spread over the north-west, west and south-west Manipur: and these areas are the habitat of a number of endangered animals and birds including Tiger, Leopard-cats, Hoolock Gibbon, Elephants, Pangolin, Pigmy Hog, Hawk, Eagle, Hornbill, Wild Goat (Sherrow) and many others. The Barak River itself is the habitat of many aquatic species including Giant Catfish, turtles, river dolphins and many other ornamental and rare fish species. The forest is endowed with innumerable variety of plants including immensely valuable medicinal and timber plants.
The COPE then said that the proposed dam falls at the confluence of Indo-Burma, Indo-Malayan and Indo-Chinese Biodiversity hotspot zone. These areas are characterized by the presence of a large number plants and animals species, particular tiger, golden languor, hoolock gibbon etc. many of which are not seen seldom witnessed in the rest part of the world. A large number of them have been categorized as endangered and threatened as the IUCN Red Data book and the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. once the dam is constructed, these innocent endangered and threatened species would have no other alternative, but to perish! Moreover many of the tribal people including Hmar, Naga, Kuki, Manipuri and others those who have been living there for generations will have to leave the place for ever. Under such a situation, does the construction of a dam in the proposed site speak quite well in favour of Biodiversity conservation?
"We strongly believe and observe with deep concern that this rock filled 390 mts. Long and 162.8 mt. high dam (Top level of the dam 181.8 mt.) to be constructed at the earthquake zone-v, wherin there will be constant pressure of water, if for any reason cracks, the entire civilization of the whole of downstream will be washed down in no time. The age old Barak-Surma culture will live in history only. Can any force or technology prevent this and ensure against such catastrophic mishap?," it questions.
The COPE also said that besides the above mentioned burning issues, other important impact like water scarcity, crop cultivation, navigation, siltation, ecological imbalance, river population, extinction of aquatic life forms and the like are never the less important frontier areas that deserve careful and serious attention, before construction of the dam.
"That Sir, your government has signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NHPC, Satjul Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVN) for construction of Tipaimukh dam. But, Sir, you know well that hydel project, particularly the Tipaimukh dam will never bring any benefit for the people of Manipur and it is sure to spell disaster for the forest wild life and environment in the up and downstream from Tipaimukh and will bring devastation for the people of both Manipur and Barak valley and even for Bangladesh," it stated.