Consultation on Sustainable Development at Lairouching Village, Senapati

11th September, 2022

 Consultation on Sustainable Development at Lairouching Village, Senapati
Consultation on Sustainable Development at Lairouching Village, Senapati

A Community Awareness Consultation on Sustainable Development was held at Lairouching Village, Senapati District, Manipur on 9th September 2022. The consultation was organized by the Lairouching Village Authority with the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur. Mr. Themson Jajo and Mr. Jiten Yumnam of Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur were the resource speakers at the consultation.

Mr. Themson Jajo, Environmentalist shared that defending indigenous peoples land, environment and planet is crucial for sustainable development and should emphasize on carrying for nature, communities. Development should not lead to wanton destruction of forest, rivers, agriculture land etc. Indigenous land is intertwined with survival and livelihood of various communities.

Rivers, land and forest are source of life and culture of indigenous communities. Yet, the Government construct large dams and destroy the relationship of peoples with rivers. For instance, the 67 MW Khongnem Chakha dam has been pursued for construction over the Barak River, which will submerge vast tract of agriculture land along the Barak River. Earlier, the submergence of vast tract of agriculture land along the Mapithel valley, also known as the rice bowl of Ukhrul District by the Mapithel dam has destroyed peoplesí survival and affect indigenous culture of communities.

 Consultation on Sustainable Development at Lairouching Village, Senapati
Consultation on Sustainable Development at Lairouching Village, Senapati

Mr. Themson continued that any development process affecting the indigenous land and culture cannot be considered as sustainable development. One need to assess who will benefit from development, either the people or the powerful elites, corporations, Government etc. Indigenous peoples are forced to sacrifice their land and resources and this development is not fair.

People only lose their land and rights for unsustainable development. Communities need to be conscious of the adverse implications of dams. Peoples free, prior and informed consent should be taken before pursuing any unsustainable development.

Mr. Jiten Yumnam, CRA shared that Sustainable development is crucial for the health of our planet and people of all generations. The development processes pursued in the pretext of promoting sustainable development should foster a human rights based, participatory and accountable development processes. Development processes that destroy the livelihood, culture and way of life of the present and community generation of indigenous peoples cannot be considered as sustainable. Manipur is witnessed to aggressive push for large dam, extractive industries, infrastructure projects, that harms our nature and people.

Mr. Yumnam continued that the Barak River is one of the most beautiful Rivers in Manipur and sustained the lives of several indigenous communities with fishing, collection of seasonal herbs and vegetables and also collection of sand and stone as well, providing additional economic sources.

However, large dams, such as 67 MW Khongnem Chakha dam has been pursued in the village which may lead to submergence of massive agriculture land and forest land belonging to the village. These will cause massive shortage of food, cause deforestation and cause climate change. Dam building in Manipur need serious rethinking of the problems of failed and underperformed dams, viz, the Khuga dam, Khoupum dam, Mapithel dam etc. Indigenous peoplesí rights over their land and their self-determined development should be recognized.

Mr. Hingba, Headman and Chairman, Lairouching Village, shared that his village has been experiencing impacts of climate change. Decades before, Lairouching used to cold even during monsoon season. However, nowadays due to felling of big trees and forest areas, the village starts getting warm. Mosquitos, that were never present, is present.

The Barak River in the village used to host big fishes, even upto 40-50 kg of fish. Nowadays, large fishes are rarely seen and is replaced by smaller fish varieties. This is also attributed to using of bombs, insecticides, battery inverters etc in fishing that led to substantial reduction in fish varieties.

The proposed 67 MW Khongnem Chakha dam will lead to water shortage and will affect the water flow of Barak River. Hence, the villagers has been expressed concerns with the dam. From 2014 onwards, the villagers even raised complaint against the dam to the Government officials.

 Consultation on Sustainable Development at Lairouching Village, Senapati
Consultation on Sustainable Development at Lairouching Village, Senapati

Mrs. CH. Tarula, Chairperson, Lairouching Women Society, expressing opposition to the proposed 67 MW Chakha dam, shared that big dam projects could not benefit more than 20% while 80% of the affected community people will surely suffer. Dam building will benefit only few. She shared, agriculture practices been affected by climate change. Cultivation of maize was fine earlier, but now becomes now unsafe due to increased pest infestation. Growing other vegetable plants is also becoming more difficult due to less rainfall, warmer temperature and climate change. The Maram villagers depend on rice and from land.

Mr. Nelson, youth leader of Lairouching Progressive Youth Unit, shared that Development should not be at the cost of the people. Land is tied to the culture and identity of the Maram Naga tribe. Land is synonymous with indigenous peoplesí survival. Any development that harms the people that destroy water sources, that affects the free flow and health of the Barak River is unacceptable. The 67 MW Khongnem Chakha dam will never be beneficial for the community in the long run and will harm nature and people.

Mr. Joseph, Guan Bora, Lairouching Village expressed strong resentment on the proposed Khongnem Chakha dam which will impair livelihood of the common people. Villagers of Lairouching depends on the Barak River for fishing, sand and stone collection, agriculture and collection of seasonal vegetables. Land is important for cultivation and peoplesí survival for generations.

99% of people in Lairouching depends on land for survival. Barak River is almost drying up during winter times, which never happened before. Even agriculture pattern is changing. Earlier, there is no shortage of water and timely sowing and harvesting of crops is possible. The village is getting warmer. No fans were required earlier, but people are increasingly using fans. But, this has changed with increased shortage of rains.

The participants in the consultation affirms to protect the indigenous land and resources and to ensure the free flow of the Barak River in Maram areas. The participants also expressed concern with the ongoing plans to build the 67 MW Khongnem Chakha dam over the Barak River and the dangers of affecting the traditional livelihood dependence on land, River and forest. The participants also called for respect of indigenous peoplesí rights, including self-determined rights in promoting sustainable development.

 Consultation on Sustainable Development at Lairouching Village, Senapati
Consultation on Sustainable Development at Lairouching Village, Senapati

(Sanaton Laishram)
CRA (Centre for Research and Advocacy), Manipur
Imphal Manipur 795001

* This Press Release was sent to by CRA, Manipur who can be contacted at cra(DOT)manipur(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This Press Release was posted on 13 September 2022

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