[atp-news] Proposed Dam in NE India to Destroy Lives & Lands

Petra Bursee (Adivasi-Tee-Projekt) petra.bursee at adivasi-tee-projekt.org
Mit Jul 14 14:23:10 CEST 2004

Liebe ATPlerInnen,
in diesem Text aus Indien (über die AKD) geht es um einen geplanten Damm und
seine Auswirkungen auf die Adivasi in Manipur im Nordosten Indiens.
Liebe Grüße, Petra

> Proposed Dam in Northeast India to Destroy Lives, Lands
> By Surajit Talukdar, OneWorld South Asia
> June 30, 2004
> http://southasia.oneworld.net/article/view/89074/1/
> Silchar (Assam) - A move by the government of the northeastern Indian
> state of Manipur to implement a dam project mooted in 1955 will
> displace at least 60,000 people and submerge hundreds of kilometers
> of forests and cultivable land, activists fear.
> The US $129.10-billion Tipaimukh dam project has been mired in
> controversy since it was conceived, with anti-dam lobbies accusing
> the government of not assessing the damage the structure could cause
> to lands and lives.
> Activists have threatened to launch a series of protests against the
> government if it does not shelve the project, which is likely to
> displace thousands of tribals in the districts of Churachandpur and
> Tamenglong in Manipur.
> The project, which ran into several implementation hassles over the
> years, was in the limelight again this month when Union Heavy
> Industries Minister (independent charge) Santosh Mohan Dev said the
> present Congress led coalition government at the center had expressed
> interest in constructing the dam and state officials were proceeding
> with its implementation.
> Said Dev, "I discussed the Tipaimukh dam issue with Finance Minister
> P. Chidambaram. The outcome of the talks was positive. He has
> expressed interest in proceeding with the project."
> A state government official reveals that in spite of the
> environmental problems the dam is expected to create, the North
> Eastern Electric Power Corporation (Neepco), headquartered in
> Meghalaya's capital Shillong, is implementing its construction.
> This multipurpose project envisages surplus hydropower generation,
> flood moderation, navigation, irrigation and pisciculture in the
> entire northeast.
> Asserts Dev, "The Central Electricity Authority already gave the
> techno-economic clearance in July 2003. Now, it's time to implement
> it."
> The proposed 390 meter-long and 162.8 meter-high earthen-rock filled
> dam will have a reservoir capacity of 15.5 billion metric cubes and
> will be located 500 meters downstream of the confluence of the Tuivai
> and Barak Rivers in Manipur's Churachandpur district, bordering the
> northeastern states of Assam and Mizoram.
> The project will have a 1,500 MW powerhouse. A Neepco engineer
> reveals, "The reservoir capacity of the dam would be 75 percent
> higher than the Bhakra dam in (the north Indian state of) Punjab, one
> of the biggest in the country."
> Neepco has been asked to consult the Geological Survey of India on
> ensuring the project can tackle large tremors.
> But independent experts like Dr R.K. Ranjan Singh, a member of the
> Manipur Association of Science and Society, caution that the project
> site is located on a major seismic zone that has already experienced
> five major earthquakes.
> Explains Singh, "A majority of earthquakes take place in these parts
> of Manipur. The higher the water column in a reservoir, the higher is
> the risk of reservoir induced seismicity (RIS). The dam's structural
> soundness in this geologically unstable area is questionable."
> The Manipur government, which had earlier rejected the project,
> signed a memorandum of understanding with Neepco last year to launch
> construction. Manipur is expected to get 12 percent free power.
> Hundreds of villagers had taken to the streets last year to demand
> the scrapping of the agreement. Construction was supposed to start
> last year but never did. There are likely to be several protests this
> year as well if the project takes off.
> Charges U. Nobokishore of the Center for Social Development (CSD) in
> Manipur, "The entire plan was made without consulting tribal people
> residing in the project area."
> The tribes of Zeliangrong Nagas and Hmar are likely to be the worst
> affected.
> Apart from taking away tribals' lands and livelihoods, the surging
> waters of the dam are likely to destroy five lakes that are
> considered sacred by the Zeliangrongs because the sword of their
> national hero Jadonang is believed to be buried in them.
> Warns a tribe elder, "We cannot let that happen and will fight to the
> finish to stop it."
> The dam is also expected to submerge a river island called 'Thiledam'
> (meaning life and death), located upstream from the proposed dam area
> and sacred to the Hmar tribal, which believes the souls of human
> beings first go there after death.
> Says Aram Pamei, secretary of the Manipur based Naga Women's
> Association, "People in this region are mainly involved in
> agriculture and horticulture. But with the construction of the dam,
> more than 67 villages will be denied of their source of livelihood.
> Out of the 67 villages, 16 will be completely submerged, as will the
> low lying areas in 51 other villages."
> There are also apprehensions that higher water levels in the monsoons
> will submerge 60 kilometers of a national highway.
> Fears a farmer in Churachandpur district, A. Imo, "We will be left
> without anything as large areas under ginger cultivation will be
> submerged. In addition, the dam is likely to submerge parts of the
> highway through which we send our crops to Assam and Mizoram."
> Flora and fauna will suffer too because of the dam, warn activists.
> Points out the head of the ecology department of Assam Central
> University, Dr Abhik Gupta, "The dam will pose a serious threat to
> the ecology of Churachandpur, one of the 25 such bio-diversity
> hotspots in the world."
> The forests under threat are the habitat of several endangered
> species and rich in orchids, medicinal and herbal plants.
> But forget protecting the ecosystem, Manipur's government apparently
> hasn't even chalked out proper rehabilitation measures for tribals
> yet. A government official admits the displacement is a huge problem,
> adding that authorities haven't taken action on it.
> Neepco is said to be dragging its feet on investing an agreed amount
> of US $10 billion in compensation for the displaced.
> Estimates from the Indian Planning Commission reveal that 21.3
> million people were displaced by development projects between 1951
> and 1990. Researchers suggest the actual figure could be over 40
> million. Only 2.1 million are reported to have been rehabilitated.
> "Manipur will not be an exception to that reality," fears Dr Dhanabir
> Laisram of the Center for Progress of Manipuri
> People.
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