The Centre for Research and Advocacy (CRA), Manipur, has expressed serious concern over increased funding by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other international financial institutions in Manipur and other states in Northeast India, saying that it will worsen the debt situations of the government and the people.
The CRA mentioned in a release the construction of the Kangchup Tamenglong Road project, Imphal Town Ring Road Project, the proposed financing of the Loktak Ecotourism Project and the Lower Kopili dam in Assam etc among those financed by the ADB.
The CRA stated that the ADB funded infrastructure road projects in Manipur, such as the Imphal Town Ring Road Project and the Kangchup Tamenglong Road Project under the South Asia Sub Economic Cooperation project are mired in controversies, such as failing to take the consent of affected communities and conduct a detailed Environment Impact Assessment.
The statement also expressed that affected villagers will be improvised due to the forced acquisition of their land without providing alternative livelihood options. There are complaints of exclusion of affected indigenous communities in the development decision on ADB projects that affect their land rights. The non-adherence of the safeguard policies of ADB has been a longstanding concern in Manipur, it stated.
It mentioned that the government of Manipur and the ADB should desist from direct disposal of earth, rocks and other debris from road cutting in their agriculture land, forest and water sources and to address their grievances.
The Manipur government should stop all forms of forced eviction pursued without their consent in Manipur. The ADB and the government should desist from forcibly acquiring land for the ADB financed Imphal Town Ring Road Project and Phalong village, affected by Kangchup-Tamenglong Road project.
The Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur also urged the ADB and the Manipur government to conduct a full-scale investigation of the social and environmental impacts on indigenous communities by various road projects funded by ADB in Manipur. ADB should desist financing the Imphal Town Ring Road Project without the consent of affected indigenous peoples, it stated.
“The challenges of such financial support of the ADB and other international multilateral and bilateral banks come as loan support with obligatory interest payments, which also undermine objectives of official development assistant (ODA).
"This can cause and worsen the indebtedness of the Government and the people. ADB in its Annual meeting in Incheon, South Korea from 2-5 May, 2023, should rescind plans to finance unsustainable large dam projects in North East India, such as the 120 MW Lower Kopili Hydroelectric Project in the pretext of promoting just energy transition and innovative climate change solutions," the CRA stated.
The CRA also stated that ADB should review and rescind all financing and facilitation of corporate bodies in the plunder and expropriation of land and resources in Manipur and across Northeast India.
The ADB should strengthen its accountability framework by establishing grievance mechanisms at the project level.
The ADB should uphold the rights of affected communities and human rights defenders and urgently undertake measures to stop the reprisals targeting community leaders striving for just development.
It should implement its safeguard policy and all provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 in its project financings in Manipur and across North East India, the CRA statement added.