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Affected villagers cry for means of livelihood, removal of Mapithel dam
Source: The Sangai Express

Thoubal/Bpr, March 14 2019: Villagers in the vicinity of the Mapithel dam are even considering extreme step of destroying the dam, said villagers who have been affected by the dam today.

The 'extreme step' was mentioned by the villagers on the occasion of the International Rivers Day (International Day of Action for Rivers) held at Yairipok Nungbrang, Imphal East demanding free flow of all rivers in the State.

The observances was organised by Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected Village Level Committee (MDDAVLC), Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected People (MDDAP), Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM) and Irabot Foundation, Manipur.

Speaking at the event, MDDAP president Yumlembam Thoiba asserted that the dam has rendered the villagers helpless and deprived them of their means to livelihood.

The people of the villages near the dam on Thoubal river are suffering to the extreme as Government and authorities concerned didn't provide them with alternative means of livelihood before the construction of the dam, he said.

The villagers on the downstream side of the dam are poor and are mainly cultivators by profession.

They depended on the river for their livelihoods.

All these have been affected by the dam which restricts the natural free flow of the Thoubal river, he added.

Before the construction of the dam, the people of the area including women were mining river sand and stones for livelihood.

The dam has shut down this as well, he said.

The dam has not only shut down the means of income for these families but also the future of their children as well, he said.

"These villagers need sound policy form the Government.

They need skill development schemes to support their families and secure future of their children.

If the Government is still adamant to the plight of the villagers, then they (villagers) will be forced to take up extreme actions to secure their future," said Thoiba hinting that the villagers want the dam 'removed' .

He sought the immediate attention of Government to bring in a sound policy and alternative means of livelihood for the villagers.

Kh Bimola, president of MDDAVLC recalled that people used to earn about Rs 1,500 per day mining the river sand when the dam was not there.

After the dam was constructed, the river stopped depositing sand forcing the villagers to abandon sand mining and look for another means of earning income for their families.

Now, the villagers who earned about Rs 1,500 per day are not able to earn even Rs 200 per day.

Supporting families and sending children to school are not possible anymore for these poor villagers, she said.

The people at the observance marched down to the river bed with banner and placards that read "Remove Mapithel Dam", "Let the Thoubal River Flow Free", "Stop the Commissioning of Mapithel Dam" and "No to Dams over Rivers in Manipur" etc.

Yumnam Jiten of CRAM and Kh Gopen of Irabot Foundation Manipur, Kangjam Maharabi, secretary United Voluntary Youth Council, Nomita Devi of Youth Forum for Human Rights in Manipur and Nameirakpam Ibetombi, secretary MDDAVLC also attended the event.

Bishnupur: In Bishnupur district the International Day of Action for Rivers was also held at Thinungei Mayai Leikai Community Hall today.

The programme was held under the theme "Restore the Riverine Systems of Loktak Lake" and organised by All Loktak Lake Area Fishermen's Union, Manipur (ALLAFUM), JAC Against Announcement of Thinungei Bird Sanctuary, Loktak Lake Fishermen Association and Indigenous Perspective.

RK Ranjan, convenor INTACH Manipur Chapter, O Rajen Singh, secretary ALLAFUM, Kh Ibomcha (advisor), N Thasana Devi (member), Athouba Khuraijam, general secretary UCM, Ram Wangkheirakpam, executive director Indigenous Perspective, Salam Joy Singh, secretary JAC Pumlen Pat, Irom Memma Devi, member JAC Against Announcement of Thinungei Bird Sanctuary and social workers Keisham Lukhoi, Thokchom Nimai and Laishram Sumati Devi attended the event.

Speakers at the event appealed all to preserve environment, forest and save river systems to ultimately save the historic Loktak Lake.

Talking about the significance of the lakes in Manipur, RK Ranjan compared the Loktak Lake and Pumlen Pat (lake) with a pair of kidneys.

He said that saving the river systems will ultimately save the kidneys (lakes) .


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