The Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD), Committee on Land and Natural Resources (COLNAR), Action Committee Against Tipaimukh Dam (ACTIP)
Press Release, 30 July 2009, Northeast
The Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD), Committee on Land and Natural Resources (COLNAR), Action Committee Against Tipaimukh Dam (ACTIP) would like to express our reaffirmation that the Tipaimukh Dam should not be constructed without the free prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples of all affected peoples in Manipur, Mizoram, Assam and further down in Bangladesh along the Barak River.
CCDD, COLNAR and ACTIP would also like to express our condemnation to the environmental clearance accorded by the Ministry of Environment and Forest of the Government of India in end 2008 despite affected peoples vehement opposition to the public hearings on the proposed dam and also to the construction of Tipaimukh dam. The clearance despite the absence of a holistic and detailed impact assessment with due rightful participation of affected peoples construes disrespect to the indigenous peoples call for respect of peoples’ rights over their land and resources.
The Tipaimukh dam to be built over Barak River, an international river, is now resisted from not all sides, upstream and downstream and the only supporter remains the government of India and the state of Manipur. The continuing and ongoing resistance against Tipaimukh dam, including the mass anti-dam mobilization in Bangladesh and the recent resolution against the dam in the Barak valley in Assam resolutely demands abandonment of the dam. Only a despot or a dictatorial government will continue with forceful implementation in defiance to peoples call for respect of their rights and justice.
CCDD, COLNAR and ACTIP will continue to fight against forceful damming of Barak river, we will defend against forceful dislocation of our peoples, resist any attempt to disregard and sacrilege our culture, economy and identity. In the past we have made it clear that our land and environment is crucial for the survival of civilizations that has grown with the river. Whether in the downstream or upstream, lives of all forms, the ecosystem, the economy, culture that has evolved with this river are critically going to be affected by this huge dam. Any form of compensation, compensatory forestation or other ‘benefits’ cannot replace what has evolved over generations.
We are also keenly aware that this dam has already caused conflicts and misunderstandings between upstream and downstream, between India and Bangladesh, between communities and to an extent fracture within communities. The government is to be squarely blamed for these consequences.
Issues of downstream impact of dams are well known. Completely ignoring such impacts and overlooking those who live in the downstream of Barak river has now catapulted. As the people of Bangladesh, the communities living downstream of this imposed dam have every right to demand scrapping of this dam. Similar to the treatment to upstream communities, it is clear that the government and the dam authorities have complete disrespect of the rights and dignity of those who live downstream. The dam if built will stand to represent an example of a repressive development.
The Government of Manipur appreciably in the past have twice passed in the Assembly resolving that they will not allow the dam. But undemocratic processes that rules Manipur have led to the signing of MOU with NEEPCO, and now with NHPC without explaining to the people what these MOUs are, how they have passed and how they have changed their position since Assembly resolution in 1995 and 1997. We urge the government to change its course on this dam.
On the visit of the Parliamentary Committee from Bangladesh, we definitely welcome them as representative of our neighbor if they are to come seeking to know more about the dam. However, we would respectfully urge them to desist from any unilateral agreement with India. By agreeing to this dam, impacts on the downstream in Bangladesh or in Assam nor in Manipur or Mizoram will go. We will continue to work with our friends living in downstream to stop this dam from coming up.
Finally, it is made known here that we will line up a series of events if this dam is not being scrapped immediately.