TODAY -

Loktak Project & corporate unaccountability in Manipur

Jiten Yumnam *

 Public consultation on Loktak project and Ithai barrage held on August 12 2017
Public consultation on Loktak project and Ithai barrage held on August 12 2017 :: Pix - TSE



Of the most ambitious and controversial mega projects in Manipur, the 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project (Loktak Project) hit news headlines in early August 2017, again for wrong reasons. Several media establishments published the non-existence of memorandum of understanding or agreement (MoU) on Loktak Project between the Government of Manipur and the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), as confirmed by the NHPC on 9 May 2017 in response to an RTI filed by Mr. Joy Haobijam of Thanga, Manipur.

The arsoning of floating huts in Loktak Wetlands and the merciless brutality unleashed by the Loktak Development Authority (LDA) and the Manipur Police in November 2011 and the scandalous corruption in the cleaning of ‘Phumdi’, floating biomass in Loktak Wetlands involving the K-Pro company, also hits news headlines in recent years.

The absence of an MoU, that should be defining the terms and conditions of the operation of the Loktak project, simply led to series of unanswered questions, especially on who should be regulating the operation of the 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project concerning its project duration, on responding to social and environmental impacts, the decommissioning period, and the rights and role of the State Government and to address the lingering grievances of the communities, challenged by the project.

With the absence of a MoU, it seems the Government of Manipur is divesting its responsibility to regulate a project marred with wide social and environment impacts on its land and resources, which provides a critical livelihood source for several indigenous communities of Manipur. The NHPC seems to be conferred with a free hand to just plunder and expropriate the wetlands and other natural resources of Manipur without any monitoring, regulation and accountability mechanism.

The construction of Loktak Multipurpose Hydro Electric Project was taken up by the Ministry of Irrigation and Power, Government of India in 1971 and was commissioned by the Government of India in 1983 with the National Hydro Electric Power Corporation (NHPC) executing the project. The Ithai Dam or barrage was constructed in the downstream of Manipur River (Imphal River) to generate 105 MW of power by and to provide Lift irrigation facilities for 24,000 hectares of land. The Ithai barrage constructed has already led to submergence of more than 80,000 acres of agriculture land.

The construction of the Ithai Dam has brought a reverse picture in economic status of Manipur from a self-sufficient to borrower’s position with a large number of agricultural lands submerged under water. Manipur continues to lose around 300 crore rupees annually, if one calculates the annual loss of crop yield, fishing and other seasonal vegetable harvest from the land destroyed by Loktak Project in and around Loktak wetlands, over 80,000 acres of land. Manipur has incurred a loss of more than 10,000 crores of rupees since the project operation from 1983 onwards. A careful calculation of economic, social and environment impact of Loktak project is a serious and critical need of the hour.

The NHPC Company refused to concede to the demands of the community affected by Loktak HEP project in Manipur for their rehabilitation and resettlement. Many of the displaced people are forced to seek refuge in Loktak Lake, building floating huts over phumdis, floating vegetation mass formed due to seasonal fluctuation of water level of the Lake. However, the Government of Manipur unleashed a reign of state terror by burning down these floating huts in November 2011. The arsoning was carried out by Loktak Development Authority (LDA) and the Manipur Police based on the eviction notification of LDA on 11 November 2011 under the Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006.

Loktak Lake is already designated as a Ramsar Protected Site under the Ramsar Convention and one of the key obligations of the Government is to ensure that communities depending on Loktak Wetlands are fully involved in all management process of the Lake as also endorsed by the resolution VII.8 and VIII.19 of Ramsar Convention`s Conference of contracting parties held at Costa Rica in May 1999 and at Spain in November 2002. Notwithstanding these resolutions, fishing communities of Loktak Lake are evicted and their intrinsic survival dependence on the Lake curtailed.

The Impact of Ithai Barrage is not limited to only submergence of agriculture land and destroying peoples’ livelihood. The Ithai Barrage has been responsible for series of floods in Manipur as the NHPC in several occasion, refuse to open the sluice gates of Ithai Barrage, leading to widespread submergence of agricultural areas. Manipur already experienced more than five major floods from April till July 2017.

Acknowledging the role of Ithai Barrage in the worsening flood situation in Manipur, the Chief Minister of Manipur, Mr. Biren has even requested Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India in July 2017 to remove the Ithai Barrage that blocks the Manipur River. Unleashing environmental impacts, the Ithai Barrage also led to disappearance of several indigenous fishes from Loktak Lake such as the Ngaton, Khabak, Pengba, Tharaak, Ngaaraa, Ngaatin etc.

It has been observed that these fishes migrated from the Chindwin-Irrawady river system of Burma to the course of Imphal/Manipur River for breeding in the adjoining lakes and streams of Manipur valley. The production of at least Twenty Three (23) indigenous varieties of aquatic edible plants, e.g Heikak, Thaangjing, Loklei, and Pulei etc has been reduced.

The Loktak Project has contributed in militarization in Manipur as Indian paramilitary forces are deployed to protect the facilities of the project, such as Ithai, Leimatak and Ningthoukhong etc. There are several cases where military officials manning the Loktak Project facilities committed human rights violations, viz arbitrary killings and summary execution of indigenous populace of Manipur.

The Loktak Project has become a real symbol of plunder and exploitation of the land and resources of Manipur and is also a key factor for undermining food sovereignty of Manipur. The continued operation of the Loktak Project without any accountability of the NHPC and the State undermines the significance of Loktak wetlands, which is classified as a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The Loktak project is also responsible for continued suffering of fishing communities, such as due to promulgation of the Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006.

The NHPC reaps huge profits while unleashing wide suffering to indigenous populace and undermining food sovereignty of Manipur. Further, NHPC has plans to accrue additional profits by renovating the Loktak Power Station by reaping and market carbon credits from the Clean Development Mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is also a false solution to climate change.

In a clear disrespect and insult to the people of Manipur, the NHPC even claimed in the High Court of Manipur that it is not responsible for the submergence of land and devastation of Loktak Wetlands ecosystem. The indulgence of NHPC by profiteering from the destruction of land and environment and impoverishing and suppressing indigenous communities of Manipur and absolving of any responsibility constitutes a highest form of corporate unaccountability.

The most unfortunate thing is the NHPC is also being entrusted by the Government of India to build the colossal 1500 MW Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project along the Barak River and also the 60 MW Loktak Downstream Project, both of which will entail wide submergence of both agriculture and forest land in Churachandpur and Tamenglong Districts of Manipur. Such massive destructive of land will further undermine food sovereignty and foster Manipur’s dependency on outsiders. Corporate bodies like the NHPC that remained unaccountable for the sheer destruction of the land and resources in Manipur should not be allowed to operate further in Manipur.

NHPC should also stop unethical ways of reaping financial gains by seeking carbon credits from upgrading the Loktak Project operations. Such practices will only reinforce the unethical practices and the violations within. The NHPC should stop reaping profits from Manipur by destroying its wetlands and by harassing its indigenous peoples. Such process will be akin to perpetuation of violations. NHPC should be held accountable for the violations and the disrespect of the people of Manipur.

The Government of Manipur and the Govt of India should explain to the people of Manipur on the absence of an agreement or an accountability mechanism for 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project. The Government of Manipur should also urge upon the NHPC to take responsibility and accountability for the sufferings unleashed on communities and for the environment devastations in Loktak wetlands. The Government of Manipur should take full responsibility by reviewing 105 MW Loktak Project and to take appropriate steps in coordination with the Government of India to decommission the Ithai Barrage at the earliest.

There is a larger question if the operation of Loktak Project with an annual loss of more than 300 Crore for Manipur is still feasible? Moreover, North East India is already power surplus and people of Manipur buy power irrespective of where it is generated. The Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006 should also be repealed to recognize the rights and role of fishing communities in the sustainable management of Loktak wetlands. NHPC should be held accountable for the multiple violations unleashed in Manipur.

A development process that inflicted suffering to the communities and that devastate their livelihood and that insisted on corporatization and perception of land and resources only as sources of profit amidst absence of any accountability mechanism for corporations and the State can never lead to sustainable development and such development processes should be rescinded.


* Jiten Yumnam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on August 18, 2017.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Tribes, Art & Soul of India #1: Gallery
  • Rally against Mob Lynching #1: Gallery
  • 'Sahnit' an honour or a disgrace
  • Irabot : Socio-Political Challenges
  • Training employees for better governance
  • Blue Ocean :: Poem
  • Sextortion: Making money from shame
  • Condemn murder of Neiphretuo Metsie
  • Social lacunae
  • BJP on poll drive at Imphal, Kohima
  • Mary Kom lost 2 kg in 4 hours
  • Historical Evaluation of Puya Meithaba #2
  • Felicitation of Sportsperson: Gallery
  • ICJ: Investigation of Extrajudicial Killing
  • Legal profession as career option #2
  • Loktak Down Stream HE Project (2x33MW)
  • Protest against mob lynching at DU
  • Ripples of Music :: Poem
  • Memo submitted to CM over lynching
  • Poems of Peace, Resistance ...
  • Helicopter Schedule for Imphal-Jiri
  • Mirabai recommended for Khel Ratna
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang #3: Gallery
  • Manipur State is still winning..
  • Gazetteer of North-East India :: Book
  • Sunfeast Cup Football Tournament
  • Trip down memory lane
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Folk Song :: Poem
  • The Endureres at Dwarka Half Marathon
  • Main accused in cop slaying nabbed
  • Naga talks not confined to Nagaland..
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #1 : Gallery
  • Rest in Peace Humanity
  • Ph Banti's artwork 'Trafficking of children'
  • Cry of a Dying River - 45 :: Poem
  • Buddhism is not a religion
  • Jobs at R-Square Design
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Candle Light at DU over lynching
  • Society as a reflection of govt
  • Mobocracy : Shame on Manipur
  • Kuki Black Day @CCpur : Gallery
  • miAoIbgi pNTuH :: Seireng
  • Apikcha, Apaiba, Tinilung :: eMing
  • An opinion on Tharoijam killing
  • How Manipur lost internal autonomy, Kabaw
  • Admission for PhD at Tripura Univ
  • Meefam ST at Nambol, Khangabok
  • Importance of Forest & Environment
  • Deep social divide: Two different folks?
  • Kuki Black Day: Kukis Will never forget
  • R & V Art House's First Art Fest 2018
  • Celebrating International Literacy Day, 2018
  • Born a Kuki, die a Kuki :: Poem
  • History of North East India :: Book
  • Will SimpliciTB make TB treatment simpler
  • Meefam chathaduna ST gi issue..
  • Dipankar Talukdar- Mr Model of World Star
  • System error- who will fix Broken Window
  • Reshuffle Talks : Say No to Yes Me
  • India negotiating vehicle pact with Myanmar
  • Chalwa Village, Kangpokpi #2 : Gallery
  • Thien & its downfall in Zeliangrong #2
  • Is FA a self exposed daylight robbery?
  • Nation Needs Small Farmers
  • Who is programming you ?
  • Bandhs as dissent & survival of laziest
  • Looking for Raju :: Poem
  • The cry of the 2nd class citizen
  • Bharat Bandh in Imphal
  • Historical Evaluation of Puya Meithaba #1
  • Sit-In: Naga Peace Talk #2 : Gallery
  • Naga-Kuki conflict: Search for definitions
  • Mega Marathon Manipur : Download Form
  • Legal profession as career option
  • Guv felicitates 5 JAK RIF for flood relief
  • Stored Anger :: Book Review
  • On stepping into the 20th year of TSE
  • Sept - month which reinstated our courage
  • Krishna Janma @ISKCON #2 : Gallery
  • Empty :: Poem
  • Lets beat littering - plastics pollution
  • NEHU Seminar : Urbanization in India
  • Jobs at JCRE Skill Solutions
  • Declaration of Naga Collective Spirit [Sep 8]
  • Akanba Khongjangidamak Yathokpa Loire
  • Support for STDC from UMA, Assam
  • 'Deplorable power supply in Nagaland'
  • Tryst with destiny - Should we accept ?
  • Stand off at MU : Impact on LS Poll
  • Exploring the enthralling Tuilha Kol
  • Kamesh Salam : Outstanding Green Activist
  • The Valley Of Brahmaputra :: Book
  • Development of road database
  • The inner page story :: Poem
  • Kakching WW-II Memorial Run 2018
  • STDC public meeting at Langathel Keithel
  • Maibi Jagoi at Sangai Fest : Gallery
  • My poll without prejudice to anyone
  • MEETAC - Mission for streamlining TK
  • Conditions leading to Marxism
  • Heart Camp at Khelakhong, Thoubal
  • Cyber bully: Crime that follows you home
  • Bhupen Hazarika : Tribute at London
  • AEP & Importance of Myanmar & NE
  • Political pandemonium
  • Students central to MU issue
  • Landscape from Koubru #2 : Gallery
  • Leishangthem Robert for Mr. World 2018
  • Oinam Shilla Chanu at Mrs India Earth
  • North-east Frontier Of India :: Book
  • Thien & its downfall in Zeliangrong #1
  • Cry of a Dying River - 44 :: Poem
  • JRF Post at Mizoram University
  • Honours to Bamboo; a ubiquitous gift
  • Case of hunter now being huntedr
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #3 : Gallery
  • Women Empowerment & judicial Activism
  • Narin Chenggum - wild edible mushroom
  • Flying Star at your lips :: Poem
  • Out of the box thinking
  • Call centre fraud: Vicious vishing attack
  • Changing India & its impact on Manipur
  • MU stand off gets uglier
  • Tikendrajit : The Lion of Manipur #4
  • Krishna Janma @Mahabali #1 : Gallery
  • Eastern Frontier of India :: Book Review
  • Remembering Radhakrishnan ..
  • Moments to cherish :: Poem
  • Glimpse of the Buddha's teaching
  • NH7 Weekender Express Editions
  • Rejoinder to NDPP from NPF [05 Sep]
  • Mental equation
  • Are teachers teaching ? Apt, timely poser
  • Sirarakhong Hathei Phanit @Ukhrul : Gallery
  • Sit-In: Naga Peace Talk #1 : Gallery
  • Globalization, Act East Policy & Manipur
  • Review on anthology of Parthajit Borah
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Child Friendly Police Stations proposed
  • ADBU Goes Green with Solar Energy
  • Convocation of Assam Don Bosco
  • Fetal Echocardiography - Seminar held
  • Rejoinder to NPF from NDPP [04 Sep]
  • Divide, divert and rule will not work
  • FA, MU crisis : Issues before LS polls
  • Krishna Janma @ISKCON #1 : Gallery
  • Komrem Student Day @Bangalore : Gallery
  • September Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • The Coils of Pakhangba :: Book
  • Physics Program in Don Bosco, Tura
  • Condemns MU VC's vindictive stance
  • 'Policy of India to suppress people'
  • NDPP congratulates Abu Metha
  • Pandey back at MU! Violating spirit of MoA
  • Exhibition @ Art College #2: Gallery
  • AMWJU Sit-In-Protest : Gallery
  • Shri Krishna Janmasthami :: Book
  • Life's heck :: Poem
  • Environment & lung health are vital
  • Innovation for the common man
  • Humanitarian crisis with NRC in Assam
  • Rejoinder to NDPP from NPF [02 Sep]
  • Jangou Rah : eRang Classic
  • The Story of 40 Pineapple Suckers
  • Rebirth of Manipur Human Rights Comm
  • Yumkhaibam Nanao Eramdam Yaourakhre
  • Lecture: Governance & Public Services
  • X-rated poem :: Poem
  • Ningol Chakkouba Celebration in Delhi
  • Baton changes hands at IGAR (South)
  • Rejoinder to NPF from NDPP [01 Sept]
  • A Wake-up call
  • Lok Sabha polls : More crucial for BJP
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang #2: Gallery
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #2 : Gallery
  • The World of Kuki People :: Book
  • Effects of the Burning of Meitei Puyas
  • Soil Technician required at MaolKeki
  • Jr. Mr. India 2018, Gyanendra Thokchom
  • Rejoinder to HTC & allies' statement
  • Consensual sex..Does it amount to rape ?
  • Need for all to keep their sanity
  • Sanagi Tenawa :: Funga Wari
  • MU: Den of Insurgents or Den of Ideas?
  • Can NRC Update save Assam and NE ?
  • Victim of Enforced Disappearances
  • Admission for Ph.D. at Tripura University
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang #1: Gallery
  • Physics Program in Don Bosco College
  • Resolution: Right of Human Right Defender
  • Advancing rights of Human Right Defender
  • Dolaithabi Dam , Senapati : Gallery
  • Eid-Ul-Adhaa Festival #2 : Gallery
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #1 : Gallery
  • 47th Nagas Annual Meet at Mumbai
  • Transcending Patriots' Day(s) #4
  • Sangai Fest: Fashion Show #2 : Gallery
  • Tikendrajit : The Lion of Manipur #3
  • Dr. Jodhachandra Sanasam : Sahitya
  • Architects announces 1st MADE 2018
  • Expedite FA Rally #2 : Gallery
  • Billie's Book by Ranjeeta Mayanglambam
  • Shougrakpam Bijaya :: A Profile
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Disputed Myanmar Border Pillar : Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #3: Gallery
  • Dzuko valley #4 :: 360 Panorama View
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS