TODAY -

Government overlooked people's concerns on Mapithal Dam constructions

17 January 2014:



ISSUES: Indigenous people's rights; environment rights; right to life; right to health

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization (MDAVO), Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD) and Centre for Research and Advocacy (CRAM), Manipur regarding the final stage II Forest Clearance for Mapithel Dam of Thoubal Multipurpose project in Manipur by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Government of India despite objections by indigenous communities affected by Mapithel dam, Manipur.

CASE NARRATIVE:

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply concerned that the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), of the Government of India accorded final Stage II Forest Clearance for the Mapithel Dam in Manipur on 31st December 2013 despite the longstanding objections of the indigenous communities affected by Mapithel Dam. The MoEF conceded Stage I and Stage II "Forest Clearances" without conducting any site visits into affected areas and without full adherence to Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA, 2006) and undermining its instructions to the Government of Manipur on 23 August 2013 to comply FRA, 2006 before final Forest Clearance.

The AHRC learned that the Forest Clearance is cleared fraudulently in violation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 only after the affected communities filed a complaint with the National Green Tribunal in August 2013. The Government of Manipur had already set March 2015 as the final date of completion of Mapithel Dam even as the Irrigation and Flood Control Department (IFCD) failed to take forest clearance for the project ever since its construction commenced in late 1980s.

The AHRC is informed that the Tribal Ministry reportedly wrote two contrasting letters to the MoEF on Mapithel Dam, one on 26 November 2013 and another on 18 December 2013, the former insisting on application of FRA, 2006 while the latter providing 'exemptions'. The conclusion of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs is that the 19 June 1993 Memorandum of Agreed Terms and Conditions for Rehabilitation and Resettlement Programme for the Mapithel dam affected villagers as adhering to the "spirit of the law (Forest Rights Act, 2006)" is an irrational decision bereft of any sensitivity to the actual violations of the said 1993 agreements and as the Ministry has failed to conduct any verification for compliance. The Tribal Ministry's opinion concession come after the National Green Tribunal, after hearing complaints filed by affected communities on forest rights violations and absence of mandatory forest clearance for the mega project, sought comments and opinions from the Ministry in November 2013.

The act of Tribal Ministry is an act of double standard and discrimination against the indigenous tribal peoples of Manipur. For instance, while the Ministry vouched for FRA, 2006 compliance in Vedanta Mining case in Orissa to protect the tribal communities, the same Tribal Ministry interestingly, exempted the application of FRA, 2006 in the case of Mapithel dam in Manipur.

The civil society organizations like MDAVO, CCDD and CRAM expressed shock and surprise that the Tribal Ministry, which should actually be protecting and promoting the rights of the tribal people, is actually acting for the complete displacement from their land and annihilate them. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs with its recommendations not to implement FRA, 2006 in the case of Mapithel dam had already set a very bad precedent, of disrespect and discrimination of tribal peoples in Manipur and North East in general.

The AHRC is concerned that the decision of the Ministry to serve the interest of corporate bodies and those in power at the cost of tribal communities only exposes the deceitful and anti-people nature of such Ministries of the Government of India, which perpetuates annihilation of the survival, rights and identity of tribal people, affected by the Mapithel dam and other destructive mega projects in the region.

The reference to 1993 RR agreement as 'consent' is also a misinterpretation and violation of the international recognized concept of "Free, Prior and Informed Consent" and also the specific recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, Mr. James Anaya in the year 2008 to the Government of India and the Government of Manipur to uphold the rights of all indigenous peoples affected by the Mapithel dam. The 'consent' of affected communities should have been taken much during the conception and implementation of the Mapithel Dam of the Thoubal Multipurpose project before 1980 when the planning commission of India approves the project or before 1990, when the project construction commences.

The Terms and Conditions of 1993 did not highlight the extent of forest, 595 hectares to be affected and submerged by the Mapithel Dam. No prior and mandatory "Forest Clearance" is sought and obtained before the 1993 agreement. And as such, the 1993 agreement itself is a violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. The claim of the Government of Manipur for full ownership of the 595 hectare of forest and other land based on 1993 agreement is false, also because the Memorandum of Agreed Terms (MoA) itself is a violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

As per the Memorandum of Agreed Terms and conditions on 19 June 1993, between the affected villages and the Government of Manipur, it was agreed to pay compensation to the land owners in installments within two years i.e. 1993 94 and 94 95. However, in total violation of the said agreement, till today, the Government of Manipur has been paying compensation to the land owners in piece meal manner thereby exploiting the indigenous tribal people in the name of development. This act of the payment is suicidal for the tribal affected villages.

The affected communities have no knowledge and are not informed of the Compensatory Afforestation programme which is intended to create forest in degraded forest land in another 1090 hectares, twice the area of direct submergence. The compensatory afforestation plan and catchment area treatment plan will have wider impacts and ramifications on many communities living in the villages of Thoubal River catchment area.

Communities affected by the Mapithel Dam have strongly raised objections to the final stage II forest clearance accorded by the Ministry of Environment and Forest. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs of the Government of India is also severely criticized for its discriminatory, insensitive and anti-tribal people decision on Mapithel Dam and also for setting a very bad precedent of encouraging annihilation and displacement of indigenous communities from their land and survival sources.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

The Government of Manipur has set the year 2015 as the final date of completion of the Mapithel Dam, which commenced construction in 1980's without considering the plight of affected villagers, such as Chadong, Ramrei, Lamlai Monbung, Sikiphung, Thawai, Zalengbung, Sankai, Riha etc in upstream portion of dam and Itham, Moirangpurel, Nongdam, Louphoung, Phayang, Saichang in downstream portion etc. No detailed impact assessment 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 upstream and downstream of Thoubal River. ("Mapithel Dam amidst Militaristic Development in Manipur ", published in The Sangai Express, 14 December 2008).

Due to the failure of the agreement on RR in 1993 and also due to the acknowledgement of the lapses and failure, the Government of Manipur constituted the Expert Review Committee (ERC) in 18 January 2008, which is also a confirmation of the fundamental flaws and the incomplete nature of the 1993 agreement. The ERC process assumes significance as it has became highly crucial for a complete review of the Project from the social, health, cultural, ecological, seismic, downstream point of view etc with due participation of all affected communities.

The Government withdrew from the ERC process after seven rounds of talks, the last talk held in February 2011 with the Government of Manipur and the communities affected by Mapithel Dam, and instead inked another agreement with a completely newly formed committee christened the Mapithel Dam Multipurpose Project Displaced Villages Committee (MDMPDVC) on 1st September 2011, which is opposed by a strong section of affected communities.

In another fraudulent process, the Government of Manipur issued an order on 28th September, 2012 constituting a "Joint Verification Team", comprising officials of Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Deputy Commissioner of Ukhrul District and Tribal Department of the Government of Manipur, to identify families affected by ongoing Mapithel Dam construction at Chadong and Lamlai Khunou villages in Ukhrul District in Manipur.

The Government of Manipur forcefully began verification at Lamlai Khunou and Chadong Village from 29 October 2012 with full security despite the objections of affected communities. The verification process based on Ukhrul District DC's order dated 28 September 2012 and 26 March 2013 is a direct violation of the stay order of the Gauhati High Court on 25 April 2012 to stay the office memorandum of IFCD, Government of Manipur on 13 June 2011, the Cabinet memo of the Government of Manipur of 24 September 2011 and also not to give effect to the agreements between the Government of Manipur and the newly formed Mapithel Dam Multipurpose Project Displaced Villages Committee on 24 September 2011 on rehabilitation issues.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rights recommended the Government of India to respect indigenous peoples rights impacted by the ongoing Mapithel dam construction on 24 June 2009 (A/HRC/15/37/Add.1 http://unsr.jamesanaya.org/PDFs/Communications%20report-FINAL.pdf , page 92-103) and as also highlighted in the "Report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, Addendum, Cases examined by the Special Rapporteur (June 2009 July 2010) (A/HRC/15/37/Add.1), which was presented to the Fifteenth session of the UN Human Rights Council. These recommendations continue to be violated.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Kindly write to the authorities quoted below expressing your concern in this case, demanding withdrawal order of the final stage II Forest Clarification of the Mapithal Dam.

Please note that the AHRC will write a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Rights of the Indigenous Peoples calling for his intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ,

INDIA: Government overlooked people's concerns on Mapithal Dam constructions

Name of victim: Tangkhul, Kuki and Meitei communities affected by Mapithel Dam both in the upstream and downstream portion of Thoubal River

Names of alleged perpetrators: Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), the Ministry of Tribal Affairs of the Government of India and the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Government of Manipur

Date of incident: December 2013 and January 2014

Place of incident: Mapithel Dam, Manipur

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the final stage II Forest Clearance for Mapithel Dam of Thoubal Multipurpose project in Manipur by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Government of India despite objections by indigenous communities affected by Mapithel dam, Manipur.

I am deeply concerned that the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Government of India accorded final Stage II Forest Clearance for Mapithel Dam in Manipur on 31st December 2013 despite the longstanding objections of the indigenous communities affected by Mapithel Dam. The MoEF conceded Stage I and Stage II "Forest Clearances" without conducting any site visits into affected areas and without full adherence to Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA, 2006) and undermining its instructions to the Government of Manipur on 23 August 2013 to comply FRA, 2006 before final Forest Clearance.

I learned that the Forest Clearance is cleared fraudulently in violation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 only after the affected communities filed a complaint with the National Green Tribunal in August 2013. The Government of Manipur had already set March 2015 as the final date of completion of Mapithel Dam even as the Irrigation and Flood Control Department (IFCD) failed to take forest clearance for the project ever since its construction commenced in late 1980s.

It is informed that the Tribal Ministry reportedly wrote two contrasting letters to the MoEF on Mapithel Dam, one on 26 November 2013 and another on 18 December 2013, the former insisting on application of FRA, 2006 while the latter providing 'exemptions'. The conclusion of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs is that the 19 June 1993 Memorandum of Agreed Terms and Conditions for Rehabilitation and Resettlement Programme for the Mapithel dam affected villagers as adhering to the "spirit of the law (Forest Rights Act, 2006)" is an irrational decision bereft of any sensitivity to the actual violations of the said 1993 agreements and as the Ministry has failed to conduct any verification for compliance. The Tribal Ministry's opinion concession come after the National Green Tribunal, after hearing complaints filed by affected communities on forest rights violations and absence of mandatory forest clearance for the mega project, sought comments and opinions from the Ministry in November 2013.

The act of Tribal Ministry is an act of double standard and discrimination against the indigenous tribal peoples of Manipur. For instance, while the Ministry vouched for FRA, 2006 compliance in Vedanta Mining case in Orissa to protect the tribal communities, the same Tribal Ministry interestingly, exempted the application of FRA, 2006 in the case of Mapithel dam in Manipur.

The civil society organizations like MDAVO, CCDD and CRAM expressed shock and surprise that the Tribal Ministry, which should actually be protecting and promoting the rights of the tribal people, is actually acting for the complete displacement from their land and annihilate them. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs with its recommendations not to implement FRA, 2006 in the case of Mapithel dam had already set a very bad precedent, of disrespect and discrimination of tribal peoples in Manipur and North East in general.

I am concerned that the decision of the Ministry to serve the interest of corporate bodies and those in power at the cost of tribal communities only exposes the deceitful and anti-people nature of such Ministries of the Government of India, which perpetuates annihilation of the survival, rights and identity of tribal people, affected by Mapithel dam and other destructive mega projects in the region.

The reference to 1993 RR agreement as 'consent' is also a misinterpretation and violation of the international recognized concept of "Free, Prior and Informed Consent" and also the specific recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, Mr. James Anaya in the year 2008 to the Government of India and the Government of Manipur to uphold the rights of all indigenous peoples affected by Mapithel dam. The 'consent' of affected communities should have been taken much during the conception and implementation of the Mapithel Dam of the Thoubal Multipurpose project before 1980 when the planning commission of India approves the project or before 1990, when the project construction commences.

The Terms and Conditions of 1993 did not highlight the extent of forest, 595 hectares to be affected and submerged by the Mapithel Dam. No prior and mandatory "Forest Clearance" is sought and obtained before the 1993 agreement. And as such, the 1993 agreement itself is a violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. The claim of the Government of Manipur for full ownership of the 595 hectare of forest and other land based on 1993 agreement is false, also because the Memorandum of Agreed Terms (MoA) itself is a violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

As per the Memorandum of Agreed Terms and conditions on 19 June 1993, between the affected villages and the Government of Manipur, it was agreed to pay compensation to the land owners in installments within two years i.e. 1993 94 and 94 95. However, in total violation of the said agreement, till today, the Government of Manipur has been paying compensation to the land owners in piece meal manner thereby exploiting the indigenous tribal people in the name of development. This act of the payment is suicidal for the tribal affected villages.

The affected communities have no knowledge and are not informed of the Compensatory Afforestation programme which is intended to create forest in degraded forest land in another 1090 hectares, twice the area of direct submergence. The compensatory afforestation plan and catchment area treatment plan will have wider impacts and ramifications on many communities living in the villages of Thoubal River catchment area.

Communities affected by the Mapithel Dam have strongly raised objections to the final stage II forest clearance accorded by the Ministry of Environment and Forest. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs of the Government of India is also severely criticized for its discriminatory, insensitive and anti-tribal people decision on Mapithel Dam and also for setting a very bad precedent of encouraging annihilation and displacement of indigenous communities from their land and survival sources.

I have learned about the background of this project from the Asian Human Rights Commission, which reveals that, the Government of Manipur has set the year 2015 as the final date of completion of the Mapithel Dam, which commenced construction in 1980's without considering the plight of affected villagers, such as Chadong, Ramrei, Lamlai Monbung, Sikiphung, Thawai, Zalengbung, Sankai, Riha etc in upstream portion of dam and Itham, Moirangpurel, Nongdam, Louphoung, Phayang, Saichang in downstream portion etc. No detailed impact assessment 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 upstream and downstream of Thoubal River. ("Mapithel Dam amidst Militaristic Development in Manipur ", published in The Sangai Express, 14 December 2008).

Due to the failure of the agreement on RR in 1993 and also due to the acknowledgement of the lapses and failure, the Government of Manipur constituted the Expert Review Committee (ERC) in 18 January 2008, which is also a confirmation of the fundamental flaws and the incomplete nature of the 1993 agreement. The ERC process assumes significance as it has became highly crucial for a complete review of the Project from the social, health, cultural, ecological, seismic, downstream point of view etc with due participation of all affected communities.

The Government withdrew from the ERC process after seven rounds of talks, the last talk held in February 2011 with the Government of Manipur and the communities affected by Mapithel Dam, and instead inked another agreement with a completely newly formed committee christened the Mapithel Dam Multipurpose Project Displaced Villages Committee (MDMPDVC) on 1st September 2011, which is opposed by a strong section of affected communities.

In another fraudulent process, the Government of Manipur issued an order on 28th September, 2012 constituting a "Joint Verification Team", comprising officials of Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Deputy Commissioner of Ukhrul District and Tribal Department of the Government of Manipur, to identify families affected by ongoing Mapithel Dam construction at Chadong and Lamlai Khunou villages in Ukhrul District in Manipur.

The Government of Manipur forcefully began verification at Lamlai Khunou and Chadong Village from 29th October 2012 with full security despite the objections of affected communities. The verification process based on Ukhrul District DC's order dated 28 September 2012 and 26 March 2013 is a direct violation of the stay order of the Gauhati High Court on 25 April 2012 to stay the office memorandum of IFCD, Government of Manipur on 13 June 2011, the Cabinet memo of the Government of Manipur of 24 September 2011 and also not to give effect to the agreements between the Government of Manipur and the newly formed Mapithel Dam Multipurpose Project Displaced Villages Committee on 24 September 2011 on rehabilitation issues.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rights recommended the Government of India to respect indigenous peoples rights impacted by the ongoing Mapithel dam construction on 24 June 2009 (A/HRC/15/37/Add.1 http://unsr.jamesanaya.org/PDFs/Communications%20report-FINAL.pdf , page 92-103) and as also highlighted in the "Report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, Addendum, Cases examined by the Special Rapporteur (June 2009 July 2010) (A/HRC/15/37/Add.1), which was presented to the Fifteenth session of the UN Human Rights Council. These recommendations continue to be violated.

I thereby urge that:

1) The Ministry of Environment and Forest to revoke the Stage II Forest Clearance for Mapithel Dam on 31st December 2013.

2) The Ministry of Tribal Affairs should also revoke its letter to the MOEF on 18 December 2013 not to apply Forest Rights Act, 2006 for Mapithel dam and rather should recommend to comply Forest Rights Act, 2006 and to take the consent of traditional bodies of communities affected.

3) The Manipur Government should stop Mapithel Dam construction till the free prior and informed consent of all affected communities.

4) Implement the clear and concise recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples' Rights; Mr. James Anaya on 24 June 2009

5) Stop all forms of forced and involuntary displacement of indigenous peoples affected by Mapithel Dam of Thoubal Multipurpose Project in Manipur as per provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007, the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Yours sincerely,



PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Prime Minister of India
South Block, Raisina Hill
New Delhi, 110 101
INDIA
Tel: +91 11 2301 2312
Fax: +91 11 2301 9545 / 11 2301 6857
Email: manmohan@sansad.nic.in

2. Minister
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs
Government of India
Shastri Bhawan, A - Wing, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road,
New Delhi, 110001
INDIA
Email: vk.deo@sansad.nic.in, rnarha@sansad.nic.in, vibhapuridas@gmail.com
Fax: +91 11 23070577, 24625800

3. Minister
Ministry of Environment and Forest
Government of India
Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex
Lodhi Road, New Delhi- 110003
INDIA
Tel: +91-11 24361727
Email: psmos-mef@nic.in

4. Chief Justice
Supreme Court of India
Tilak Marg, New Delhi-110 001
INDIA
Fax: +91-11- 23381508, 23381584, 23384336, 23384533, 23384447
E-mail: supremecourt@nic.in

5. Ms. Shelja Kumari
Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment
Government of India
Shastri Bhawan, Dr Rajendra Prasad Road
New Delhi - 110 001
INDIA
Fax + 91 11 23384918
E-mail: min-sje@sb.nic.in

6. Mr. Harish Rawat
Minister of Water Resources
Government of India
Ministry of Water Resources
Shram Shakti Bhawan
Rafi Margh
New Delhi- 110 001
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 23710804
Email: minister-mowr@nic.in

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

8. 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

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)



* This info was sent to e-pao.net by Asian Human Rights Commission who can be contacted at ua(at)ahrc(dot)asia
This Press Release was posted on January 18, 2014

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  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download
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