Updated on 22 Nov 2021, 2:26 am
Gangluan (Nungleiband) part IV village, located in Tamenglong district, Manipur has agreed to ensuring free and unhindered flow of the Leimatak River and to call for a review of the proposed 70 MW Nungleiband Dam, the 66 MW Loktak Downstream Hydroelectric Project proposed over Leimatak River.
The villagers agreed during a consultation on Sustainable Development organised at the village on Sunday by the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRA).
During the consultation, Jiten Yumnam of CRA shared that the Leimatak River is one of the most important rivers of Manipur and that it has been targeted for large dam construction. Yumnam shared that the flow regime of the Leimatak River is affected due to direct discharge of water from Loktak Power Station of the 105 MW Loktak multipurpose hydroelectric project, which curtailed villagers’ dependence on the river for fishing, sand collection, besides claiming lives of villagers along the river.
The proposed construction of 70 MW Nungleiband dam, the 66 MW Loktak Downstream Hydroelectric projects will submerge people's land, forest and other livelihood sources, Jiten said. It is crucial to rescind all plans to construct large dams over Leimatak River and to call for decommissioning of the Ithai Barrage of Loktak project to avoid all social, environmental and climate change impacts in Manipur, he added.
Haothaoliu Panmei, member, Women Society, Gangluan Part IV, shared that the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation operating the Loktak power station, discharged water from the power station to the Leimatak River daily from around 7 PM. This affected the villagers' reliance on the river for fishing, for sand collection, to access the river etc. The sudden release of water from Loktak power station caused the drowning of several villagers, including children from villages like Thangal, Toushang, etc. Panmei said.
Gunrei Kamei, Social Activist, shared that sustainable development is crucial for indigenous people depending on the land, forest, rivers and other resources for livelihood. Gunrei expressed concern that the rivers in Noney and Tamenglong areas have been targeted with construction of large dams, oil exploration, railway works etc. Indigenous people need to be fully conscious of these development processes that will entail loss of destruction of forest, land and water, to ensure that all development decisions and interventions ensure the survival and human rights for all coming generations, Kamei said.
G Amarjit, Faculty Member, JNU shared that dam building causes much conflict within communities. Dam building is marred with lack of transparency, accountability and lack of detailed impact assessment. Dam building is not sustainable, given the adverse impacts on people, environment and climate, Amarjit stated.
Studies confirm that dam building benefits corporate bodies while impoverishing communities with submergence and destruction of their land and resources. It is high time to question whose development are large dams, the JNU faculty member said.
The participants also called for the decommissioning of the Ithai Barrage of the 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project. The participants also asserted that the land, forest and river represent life for indigenous people.