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Serou dam: Atypical structure across Chakpi river

Shan Basnet *

 Serou River (in January 2014)
Serou River (in January 2014) :: Pix - Ashok Ningthoujam



Serou dam sounds a concrete modern structure that supplies water for irrigation but it is a dilapidated wooden fence standing feebly against the swift current of the Chakpi River. The dam is almost located at the corner point of Toupokpi, Serou and Chakpi Molbem.

It is entirely in Chandel district however the canal is dug in Serou which lies in Kakching district. The dam is about 200 metres long and the whole structure is made of wood. These woods have been felled every year from the hills of Chakpi Molbem and at times from Toupokpi.

The Chakpi water is diverted through the canal to irrigate 400 hectres of fields across Serou and Thinkganphai. The Chakpi River has a total catchment area of about 660 sq.km.

It has 36 villages settlement along the corridor on both sides of the river basin. The Chakpi bestows fertile land along its sides and Serou valley is the end of basin before it is merged with the Imphal River.

The Chakpi River shoulders the ancestral bond of the Tarao and Anal tribes with the Meiteis since the Meitei deity Wangbren who looked after the southern frontier had a nuptial tie up with the Anal damsel Shangnu.

Serou dam withholds its five decades long history. Regarding the origin of the dam one of the senior citizens named Thakur Singh Basnet says that the concept of diverting Chakpi water to the field of Serou was initiated by Thangpu's father who was then the chief of Thinkganphai village in the early sixties.

He made some Lushais who were residing on the adjacent hills of Chakpi Molbem and Thinkganphai dig the canal from the river through the Serou fields. In the early seventies of one thousand and nine hun­dred a committee was formed to look after the Serou dam.

The committee gave contract of the maintenance to certain contractor after fixing the amount of rice to be paid to him every year by the farmers. Among the contractors Shyam Bahadur Bhattarai looked after the maintenance for a decade. He even committed suicide in April 1989 on the spot of the dam after incurring heavy losses as the flood had taken away parts of the dam several times for some years consecutively.

Narrating the incident Mr Bhattarai's son Bhim accuses the committee for his father's death and says, "Had the dam committee not forced my father to quit the work of contractor, he would not have ended up his life".

He gets goose bumps on his body relating that his family is reluctant to speak anything on this matter as they have lost almost everything in the dam. He also mentions that a bust of his father is being talked to erect at the premises of the dam for his contribution and memory.

Serou dam is an attraction to the visitors who come from the state capital Imphal and various other parts of Manipur. It also serves as a route for people who want to come to Serou from the nearby villages like Toupokpi, Nungpan, Dangkhu, Salluk and Chakpikarong.

The Serouians were exempted from paying rice to the contractors since K Ranjit who is a living legend and a man behind the curtain was elected to the member of legislative assembly from Sugnu constituency in 2002.

He managed to cover the cost of maintenance from the state coffers. He is the man who took initiation to build a concrete dam over the Chakpi River by diverting the water from Salluk village to Molnom of Chandel district.

However, the plan was opposed by almost all the chiefs of the villages which lie along the sides of the Chakpi River. The maintenance of Serou dam has been carrying out at present by Serou Development Committee, a committee which was formed to look after the developmental works within Serou village.

The committee charges minimal rate from each farmer that comes to 80kg per pari (one hectre). The farmers have been filling their granaries for nearly half a century yielding pleasant harvest every year yet Serou dam has remained a mere spectator getting a faint assurance of being concretized into a magnificent structure that can stand firmly against the Chakpi water.


* Dr Th Dhabali Singh MD, wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at Shanbasnet130(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on May 11, 2019.



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