Newmai News Network
IMPHAL, Feb 26 : The Mapithel Dam Affected Villages Organization (MDAVO) has expressed serious concern with “the deliberate non- compliance of the order of the Eastern Zone Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT), Kolkata dated 6th December 2017”, by the Water Resources Department, Government of Manipur concerning the violation of Forest Rights by the Mapithel Dam of Thoubal Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project.
According to the MDAVO, the Court order was passed by the NGT directing the State Government to comply with the Forest Right (Recognition of Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA, 2006), to ensure proper consultation with the traditional bodies or Gram Sabha or its equivalent as required under the FRA, 2006 and to implement the Court directions within three months. “The NGT order was issued on December 6, 2017 in the Review petition No. 46/2016/EZ dated 7th April 2016 filed by the affected villagers after almost five years of litigation for prolonged violation of forest & environment laws, especially the FRA, 2006, in the construction of Mapithel Dam”, the MDAVO said.
The affected villages’ body stated that there has been no positive initiative from the Government of Manipur so far. “With hardly ten days to complete three months, the Government is nowhere in the preparation to comply with the order within the next ten days, representing a clear case of dishonoring the directions of NGT Court,” it added.
The MDAVO asserted that the project proponent of Mapithel Dam, the Government of Manipur is answerable to the order under the NGT Act, 2010, failing which, it is liable to receive penalty under section 26 and 30 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.
According to the MDAVO, as per the necessary conditions stipulated in Forest Clearance on the process of seeking consent, the community people have to be given enough space for serious discussion comprising of at least 50% quorum of each village assembly regarding forest diversion proposal at 595 hectares.
“If the forest owners are satisfied with the consideration made by the State Government assuring long run livelihood sustainability, the required consent process can be cleared which will be considered clearance criteria being fulfilled. If the result is in contrary, the so called Forest Clearance can be revoked,” it added.
MDAVO stated that the proposed plan to commission Mapithel Dam in March 2018 without implementing the NGT Court order of December 2017 would be definitely repeating the hundred years of “historic injustice done to the forest dependent communities in India where a clear chapter of force execution, suppressing rights of citizens, undermining the necessary procedures under the National Forest & Environmental laws and customary laws of the tribal community people”.
Additionally, MDAVO said that it would like to state that the commissioning plan of the Mapithel Dam project without properly addressing the plights of the affected communities inhabiting the upstream and downstream of Mapithel dam, without conducting a holistic Impacts Assessment along with remedial measures, recognition of rights of the tribal land owners without completing key infrastructures for intended objectives of the project would totally be irrational.
Finally, MDAVO affirmed that it will oppose in all possible means “against the undemocratic, irrational, premature and forceful plan” to commission the Mapithel Dam of Thoubal Multipurpose Project.
“The Government of Manipur should learn from the Khuga Dam experience, where the dam remained non-functional even after almost ten years of project commissioning in 2010. MDAVO would also like to insist that the Government of Manipur fully comply with the direction of the NGT to implement the Forest Rights Act in the case of Mapithel Dam,” the affected villages’ body stated.
Newmai News Network