TODAY -

Social impacts of Mapithel dam

Themson Jajo *

media consultation on 'Mapithel dam and its Commissioning Plan' at Manipur Press Club on 17 April 2017
Media consultation on 'Mapithel dam and its Commissioning Plan' at Manipur Press Club on 17 April 2017 :: Pix - CRAM



The Mapithel (Apeesii) Valley along the Yangwui Kong/Thoubal River, flowing through the Imphal East district, Thoubal District via Mapithel valley before joining the Imphal River at Irong Ichil which is originated at Shiroi Hills and Hoome that joined at Lamlang Gate in Ukhrul district, is a permanent home to thousands populace of Tangkhul, Kukis, Vaiphei and Meitei communities over generations.

Besides the beautiful natural environment, rich fertile land, river, forest resources and varied kinds of flora and fauna with seasonal fruit and food produces that sustained the people, there has been an environment of peace and tranquilities, mutual trust, cordial relationship, solidarity in many ways, high spirit of co-existence among the villages and communities in this valley since olden days. There were no serious villages and communal confrontation and hostility among the settlers in the valley for thousands of years.

The Thoubal River (Tangkhul name it Yangwui Kong), has been the key agent for an inseparable solidarity among the thousands of populace in the Mapithel valley which played cardinal roles in the inter & intra personal, families, villages and communities relationship since time immemorial. The Thoubal River indeed acts as a unifying factor for all communities settling in the valley.

There were free accesses of fishing, recreation and exchange of agriculture labors among them irrespective of villages or communities etc. The Mapithel valley along this river owned an impressive unique feature of both hills and valley. The aged-old serene Mapithel valley was turned into the most un-dreaming horrible place ever since the construction of the devastating Mapithel dam of Thoubal Multipurpose Project was incepted in 1990.

Among the multiple negative impacts of the Mapithel dam project, impacts on social perspective is the severest negative blows the affected communities suffered who have been infected with deadly parasite in every level of socio-communal lives.

The construction of Mapithel dam has led to social turmoil in the upstream areas and was inflicted with irreparable social disintegration, chaotic under doubt, confusion, mutual distrust, hatred, group-ism, disunity and social division in the villages since the beginning of the dam project.

Chadong village in the Ukhrul district is the living example where local settlement has been segregated into three or more sections willingly or unwillingly. Phayang Kuki village had been totally uprooted from the planet and some are displaced permanently. Thousands of populace of six villages have been scattered to different parts of the state due to compelling situation of the dam.

The project has also incited marathon of case litigation and land dispute against each other to some villages till date. Mutual distrust, interest contestation, social divisions, workers migration and culture of early marriage, family disintegration are also rampant in the downstream villages too in the post dam era.

Another major social impact of the Mapithel dam is creation of permanent socio-communal rift by dichotomizing the Thoubal River valley into two with the term upstream and downstream. Since construction of the dam was started, those Tangkhuls in Ukhrul and Meiteis in the Imphal East districts seemed to have been divided like Line of Actual Control (LAC) of the Thoubal River which they had been enjoying like common ownership in terms of fishing, recreation etc. Today, they have been set apart into different world to each other, forced them cut off the intrinsic chain of relationship they had among them since their forefathers.

The sporadic common and unrestricted living of the different community people through the gift of the Thoubal River, have been totally drained out today. The aged-old socio-communal fabric of close friendship, inter-village thorough-fare, acquaintances, solidarity, feeling of being neighbor etc. have been brought to a grinding halt due to the dam.

It is indeed a woeful chapter that, those different community people in this valley who used to come across each other every now and then as matao-mangai have been curtailed today. There has been instance of communitiesí un-cordiality arising out of inevitable dependency of safe drinking water by the Meitei communities upon the neighboring Tangkhul villages. Imposition of high rate of yearly water taxes enhanced hardship of the Meitei communities coupled with insecurity and unreliability which defeats the spirit of long time inter-communitiesí co-existence.

Observing the unfolding complex social impacts, it is compelling to question whether the Mapithel dam project is really a boon or a block for citizens of Manipur. The Mapithel dam project is being targeted for well-being of the public whereas, the affected communities are thrown upon with a socially havoc, shattering all the affinities, friendly relationships, instilled perennial enmity and hatred that characterized their social life depriving their mutual trust and peaceful co-existence, even creating a wide socio-communal rift among the hill-Valley people beyond repair.

The people living in this valley region have to bear the burden of internal feuds that is deeply rooted as long as the dam project survives with no hope of the lost chain of old friendship being restored. Vivid history of involuntary social displacement, dispersal of loving families and relatives and anguish of vanishing local settlement of their forefathers will continue to haunt through generations.

The said to be project developers are responsible for creating such history of night-mere for the people living in the Mapithel valley region. It is undeniable to maintain that the multi-layered negative social impacts including socio-communal rift are so caused due to unscrupulous, insincere divisive policy, unsystematic, unaccountability and absence of transparency kind of development intervention of the state govt.

Hope, it is high time to review the mega developmental projects of Manipur like the Mapithel dam in particular, and other failed and underperforming projects in general which had induced irreparable damages to the social ethos and fabric of socio-communal in the state.


* Themson Jajo wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on May 13 , 2018.



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