International Rivers Day was organsied at Chadong Village, Ukhrul District, Manipur March 14 along the Thoubal River by Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization (MDAVO), the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur and the Human Rights Initiative. The Thoubal River is now converted into a reservoir of the Thoubal Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project. The observation at Chadong village is part of the three day observation of the International Rivers day, organized with the theme, “Protection of River, Agriculture Land and Natural Resources of Manipur”.
The programmme was marked with protest meet and sharingfromkey representatives of Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization, Chadong Village Authority and several other environmental and human rights organization. Dominic, Chairman, MDAVO highlighted how the project proponents of Mapithel dam submerged thousands of hectares of agriculture land, forest areas and grazing grounds from January 2015 onwards, leading to untold hardship on villagers. The Government has failed to conduct holistic impact assessments, which led to controversial and divisive rehabilitationof affected communities. Dominic stressed the need for addressing the rightful demands for justice and fair rehabilitation of all communities affected by Mapithel dam.
Jiten Yumnam, Secretary, CRAM, shared how the key objectives of the observation of international Rivers day worldwide is rendered meaningless in Manipur with Barak River, Thoubal River and others already subjected to mega dams constructions, destroying the dependence of indigenous communities and high level of pollution and contamination, such as the Nambul River. He said the human rights of indigenous communities and the impacts on environment; rich flora fauna and other cultural and natural heritage of Manipur are undermined and neglected. He express concerns that Rivers, forest and other natural heritages of Manipur are destroyed to serve the profit and business interest of corporate bodies.
Phulindro, Chairman, Committee on Human Rights explained the need to rejuvenate the health of Thoubal River and other rivers of Manipur and to promote the intrinsic relationship of indigenous communities with Thoubal River, which requires a full respect of the human rights.
A Brief protest meet was held urging the Government to address the multifaceted impacts of Mapithel dam, to review the Mapithel dam and to let the Thoubal River Flow Free.