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Tuiruong-Tipaimukh-200x128 May 10, 2010: The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) recently signed by the Government of Manipur with the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) and Shimla-based Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVN) for building the controversial 1500 MW Tipaimukh Hydroelectric (Multipurpose) Project has been outrighly rejected by human rights activists coming under the banner of Sinlung Indigenous People Human Rights Organisation (SIPHRO).

“It (MoU) is without the prior, informed consent and approval of the Sinlung-originated Hmar indigenous peoples who has been peacefully co-existing with river Tuiruong and Tuivai since time immemorial,” SIPHRO Secretary Mr. Lalremlien Neitham said in a press statement released on Monday.

Demanding that guidelines of the World Commission on Dams (WCD), which stated that “no project should proceed without the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples”, be followed by the three parties SIPHRO said that the MoU “is without the understanding of the Hmar people who are living in the proposed Dam site.”

NHPC and SJVN had signed an agreement with Manipur government on April 28, 2010 at Faridabad which gave the two firms 69 per cent and 26 per cent share in the proposed project.

Terming the deal as a “unconstitutional, discriminating, unjust, and undemocratic”, SIPHRO said, “it threatened Hmar indigenous people’s citizenship and democratic rights (over their), land, rivers, forest, natural resources.”

Taking a dig at the NHPC’s track record with hydro-power, SIPHRO said, “it is alarmingly poor in all the important aspects. If one looks at NHPC’s performance, in case of Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Chamera I and II projects in HimachalPradesh, Loktak project in Manipur, Koel Karo project in Jharkhand, Lower Subansiri project in Arunachal Pradesh, Teesta Low Dam stage III project in North Bengal, Salal and Uri projects in Jammu and Kashmir, Dul Hasti project in Jammu and Kashmir, Baira Saul project in Himachal Pradesh and Tanakpur and Dhauliganga projects in Uttaranchal, Rangit project in Sikkim, it is evident that NHPC severely failed in good practices, creating irresponsible disaster to land, people and resources, displacing people without proper relief, rehabilitation and resettlement measures, violating human rights, huge cost and time overruns, causing construction related disaster, poor social and environmental standards.”

SIPHRO also stated that NHPC did not even have an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment of its projects. “Worst, NHPC have also, in many cases, failed to avail free, prior information for the affected people,” Mr. Neitham stated.

Coming down heavily on the Government of Manipur to declare the MoU as “null and void”, the human rights body which has been advocating ‘people-first approach’ said the state has a “failed record of implementing policies on dams and any development projects, breakdown of law and order and governance. It does not qualify to be one of the implementing agencies by playing with the lives of its citizens, forests, rivers, and rights in the name of development.”

“The Government of Manipur should not exploit the strength of its militarised State to built Tipaimukh Dam,” SIPHRO warned. SIPHRO further said that it people will “never accept” the deal sign by the three agencies as it was “a document for mass destruction.” “It is not acceptable (to the people),” Mr. Neitham said.

Tipaimukh (Ruonglevaisuo) is situated in a strategic location. Earlier it served as the main centre of the Hmars who are now divided by state boundaries of Manipur, Mizoram and Assam.

Underlying the importance of the proposed dam site, SIPHRO said: “Although river Tuiruong and Tuivai, the proposed damned rivers for Tipaimukh Dam, which was indiscriminately used as political boundary, divides our people in different States, our diverse cultural, social, political, environmental realities and struggles are one and the same.”

It may be noted that after many years of the withdrawal from Tipaimukh constituency, the Government of Manipur and state actors has been projecting the Tipaimukh Multipurpose HEP as the vehicle to redress the social, economic, and political exclusion and injustice to the development and governance deprived people of the region.

“The recent MoU itself was another (mark of) corruption that was covertly signed behind closed doors by negating the existence of the Hmar people and their democratic and citizenship rights,” the statement added.

Claiming that SIPHRO has been fighting for the basic rights of the Sinlung-originated indigenous peoples, SIPHRO said it “will not never accept” the deal, even as it demanded the “Government of Manipur, implementing agencies and financial institutions to responsibly withdraw from funding the planning or construction of Tipaimukh Dam.”


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