TODAY -

Govt has snubbed expert committee : MDAVO
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, June 27 2011: The Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers' Organisation has accused the State Government of snubbing the expert review committee constituted in connection with Mapithel earth dam which is a part of Thoubal Multipurpose Project.

Speaking to media persons at Manipur Press Club here this afternoon, vice-chairman of the organisation, Themson Jajo said that the expert review committee was set up by the Government itself in 2008 .

Besides completely ignoring the expert review committee, the Government has been indulging in acts of intimidation and driving wedges to divide the villagers, he alleged.

The project was first initiated in 1970's without obtaining free and prior consent from the people.

The people were not informed when the Planning Commission of India approved the project in 1980 .

Themson Jajo said that several machines and other assets stationed at the dam site were set ablaze by villagers of the surrounding area in 1990 in protest against the project.

It was only in 1993 when the Government and the affected villagers signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement.

According to the MoU, the affected villagers should be given within two years (1994-95) failing which the Government should pay compensation amount together with interest.

Notwithstanding the MoU, the Government started paying compensation from 1996 in small amounts.

Even as the compensation amount has been paid in seven phases, the villagers are yet to get their full compensation amount.

Whatever compensation paid by the Government was only for paddy fields.

Nothing has been paid for forest resources, homesteads and other properties, Themson Jajo said.

Recalling that Chief Minister O Ibobi and IFC Minister N Biren declared that the project would be completed next year during their recent visit to the project site, the Vice-Chairman lamented that the Chief Minister and his Cabinet Minister said nothing about the 500 odd families who would be uprooted from their ancestral land as and when the project is commissioned.

This was an indication of the Government not complying with the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Plan of 1998 which lays down that rehabilitation and resettlement programme should be completed first before commissioning the project (page 52, para 8), Jajo pointed out.

Now the Government has started cajoling the people asking the amount they want.

Meanwhile, some of the villagers have been awarded contract works just to hoodwink them from the impending doom and create divisions among the villagers.

Interestingly, the project was conceived with the objectives of providing irrigation facility to paddy fields, generation of electricity, water supply to Imphal city and prevention of flood in downstream areas.

In the meantime, five affected villagers have filed a writ petition at Gauhati High Court praying that the State Government be directed to halt construction of Mapithel dam until the rehabilitation programme is completed.

The petition was heard at Imphal Bench, Gauhati High Court today.

After perusing the petition, the single bench of Justice Mutum BK Singh issued notices to the respondents, namely the State of Manipur represented by IFCD Commissioner/Secretary and IFCD Chief Engineer.

The Court has also requested the Advocate General, counsel for the first respondent, to submit an affidavit detailing progress of the rehabilitation programme.


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