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E-Pao! Education -Kukis Campaign Against Tamanthi Dam

Kukis Campaign Against Tamanthi Dam
Exploitations Of Natural Resources In Kuki Areas

By: Kuki Students Democratic Front *



* Historical Background of the Kukis in brief:-

From time immemorial, the present Burma has been inhabited by different ethnic groups with an invisible line of demarcation between territories. Without belonging to any particular nation, it was the land of all the communities inhabiting it while the territorial integrity of each community was respected by the other. In such a scenario, the main pre-occupations of the people were religion, culture and trade.

The Kukis are one of the many nations who have been living in Burma since olden times. A freedom loving people, they rose up in rebellion against the British invasion can be judged from the fact that it affected all the Kuki inhabited areas of the present day Burma and India. Due to their superior arms, the Britishers were able to subjugate the Kukis after a long drawn-out-struggle of three years (1917-19).

They lived under the British rule for nearly thirty years. By then, India and Burma had already been the British colonies for more than 100 years. Unfortunately, when the British left India and Burma, the border line of these two countries was drawn passing right through the middle of the territories of the Kukis and thus remains their (the Kuki’s) sovereignty un-restored.

This is the reason why the Kukis are found living along Indo-Burma regions and the Kukis of Burma must doggedly bear merciless treatment- torture, rape, pottering, etc. in the hands of successive military rulers.

* Man power exploitation:-

Since Newin coup power in 1962 from the then democratic govt. headed by prime minister U Nu followed by another coup in 1988, the Kukis have been subjected to all kinds of human rights violation such as forced labour, pottering (sometimes with their bullock cart) of the food items, arms, ammunitions, etc. of the patrolling army from village to village. It was a daily routine that was in vogue for more than two decades until the road transport gets improved a little.

Forced labour was used in the construction of roads, govt. school buildings and quarters, hospitals, army camps, 500 houses in 10 villages to give influx of slums from cities and prisoners permanent settlement, digging or excavation of irrigation canals trenches in army out post, erection of electric posts, soil preparation of acres of agricultural land own by the army out post officers, so on and so forth. Endless suffering stories of the Kukis in the hands of tyrannical regime are there.

Failure to attend forced labour summoned due to various considerable reasons like sickness, out of station, etc. results in physical torture and doubling in the volume of work to be done. According to the secretary’s record of a Kuki village, one person from each was subjected to forced labour for 120 days in a year without any provision.

* Forest:-

Though Burma’s military govt. has signed several international agreements including the “Convention on Biological Diversity and the International Tropical Timber Agreement” (CBDITTA), more than 70% of the Kuki inhabited areas have been deforested by cutting down of trees for sale as timber, most certainly for strengthening the barbaric regime, whose army strength has grown from 200,000 in 1988 to more than 400,000 in 2002.

The SPDC regime of course senses the ill effect such as change of rainfall and climate, extinction of species of animals, insects, plants etc. that would arise from deforestation. But as regards to priorities of things are concerned, environmental consideration is far behind “the continuity of the barbaric regime” that matters to the army generals.

While other nations of the world are putting constant stress on the people to preserve forest and encourage planting of more trees, the military junta of Burma is driving on the vice. The Kukis are robed of their properties. It is painful for one to see one’s own trees being fallen and sold on large scale by another without prior consultation or giving a thought to potential harm.

* Water Resource Exploitation:-

The Kukis are now under attack by the SPDC regime to rob of their water resources after forest. The means of its approach is seemingly nice and good that even some of the Kukis who would be affected are also convinced because they are not far sighted.

What aggravates the plight of the people of Burma is that the head of army who is ruffian has at present more than 200 places to erect large, medium and small hydro power stations with the total generation capacity of nearly 40,000 MW, most of them without scientific investigation into the potential impacts and also without the concern or open participation of the affected community.

Among this projects one of the largest is proposed to be constructed in the Kuki inhabited area- the details of it is given below:

Name of the Proposed Dam:
Tamanthi Hydroelectric Power Project.

Background (history):
Preliminary survey was conducted by the technical experts of Japan and then Korea but owing to certain deadlock over the sharing of profit, the talks have both run into rough weather. Then in November 1999, Indian Power delegation team and Myanmar Electric Power enterprise jointly carried out the investigation followed by report and discussion in the Indian Parliament.

The Chairman of SPDC, Gen Than Shwe visited India during October 24 to 29, 2004 and held talks with UPA Govt. of India and signed MoU on the Project besides many others India’s External Affairs Minister (EAM), K.Natwar Singh paid a visit to Burma on “Look East” policy during 24-27 March 2005 at the invitation of Burma’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, U.Nyan Win..

India’s security concerns in the North-East, cross-border infrastructure development projects, Kaladanmulti-modal transport project and the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, India-Bangladesh-Myanmar gas pipeline and Tamanthi Hydro-electric Power project were figure on the agenda. A five member team of power experts comprised of the member, Central Electricity Authority (CEA), DV Khera, Member planning, CEA, AN Sinha, Chairan and managing director, NHPC, Yogendra Prasad, Executive Director, NHPC, B Sharma and director, Projects, Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, PGCIL, RK Madan visited Burma on February 19, 2005 and held discussions over exporting around 80% of Power Generated, laying the transmission links from the project to an appropriate location in North East India, from where it will then be transmitted to other regions of the country, the technical aspect details related with the funding of this project along with the payment contracts, investments required to put up transmission lines, etc.

Name of the river:
Chindwin that originates from Hukaung valley and flowing into Irrawaddy (Ayeyawaddy).

The Dam site:
Leivomjang, a Kuki village between Tamanthi and Homalin in Chindwin basin, in the heart of Kuki inhabited area of Western Sagaing Division.

Generation Capacity:
1200 Megawatts.

Sharing of Power Generated:
80% of the power generated will be exported to India while only 20% for local supply (mostly for the SPDC).

No of Kuki villages affected:
More than 35 villages will be relocated.

Area of compulsory acquisition:
About 17,000 acres of agricultural land.

Company Undertaking the project:
National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), India.

Projects such as this require thorough and scientific investigation into social and Environmental impacts in compliance with the World Commission on Dam (WCD) recommendation. According to the internationally recognized principles and guidelines established by the WCD, any propose hydroelectric project must adhere to respect the following five points:

1. Public access, acceptable and ensuring participation.
2. Equitable resettlement program such as adequate compensation.
3. Effective environmental mitigation.
4. Fair sharing of benefits between affected communities and developers.
5. Co-operative in managing the national rivers and investigation of trans-boundary impacts.

Unfortunately, the military regime of Burma does show respect to and have violated all the above five points. Earth Right Committee the Kuki Students Democratic Front (KSDF), Burma, therefore, vehemently object, protest, campaign and fight against the implementation of the proposed Tamanthi Hydroelectric Power Project in Chindwin river for the following additional reasons.

1. It will adversely affect the existence of biodiversity, ecological balance and climatic conditions of the region
2. Flood on the upstream and change in the morphology of the riverbed and bank will destroy the habitats of birds and animals like hornbill, peacock, tiger, elephant, rhinoceros, wild bear, boar, wild buffalo, etc. because the proposed dam site is part Burma’s largest National Park.
3. The regional Kukis will be for sure subjected to forced labor till completion of the work.
4. More than 35 Kuki villages will be subjected to relocation together with acquisition of thousands of acres of their agricultural land uncompensated.
5. It has political intension to constantly subjugate or suppress the ethnic Kukis by the Army arranged settlement of influx and poor Burmans from cities and prisoners (who will purposely outnumber and reduce the regional Kukis to minority) on the pretext of poverty eradication program. (Thousands of houses have already been constructed in other parts of the Kuki areas with the same purpose).
6. According to the plan 80 % of the power generated will be exported to India by which the brutal dictatorship will earn millions of rupees that will be used to crush pro-democracy fighters and ethnic nationalities.
7. Rise in power of the Army will pose threat to the regional peace in South East Asia.

* Appeal

Earth Right Committee of the Kukis Students Democratic Front (KSDF), Burma earnestly request and appeal to all individuals and organizations of Students, teachers, Intellectuals, doctors, scientists, engineers, politicians, religious and social workers, ecologist and environmentalist of all communities across the globe to join hands with us in this campaign against the construction of Tamanthi Hydroelectric Power Project on Chindwin river at Leivomjang, Sagaing Division Burma.

Earth Right Committee
Kuki Students Democratic Front
(KSDF)

Sign online petition at the URL link below

http://www.petitiononline.com/67kukis/petition.html


Kuki Students Democratic Front is appealing to sign this petition
They can be contacted at ksdfhq@yahoo.co.in
This article was webcasted on June 03rd, 2005.


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