Protest marks International Rivers Day
Dimapur, March 14 (EMN): Centre for Research and Advocacy (CRA), Manipur, in association with the Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, authorities of Sibilong and Toubam village celebrated two-day International Rivers Day at Sibilong village and Toubam village in Tamenglong district on March 13 and 14 respectively on the theme “Let our rivers flow free.”
The celebration was aimed at revitalising the relationship of indigenous communities with their rivers and land and to strengthen their solidarity to defend their rivers and land from all unsustainable and destructive forms of development such as mega dams, oil exploration etc impacting rivers.A community protest meet at Sibilong village along the bank of Barak River on March 13 marked the first day of the celebration, where the possible impacts of proposed 1500 MW Tipaimukh dam, 190 MW Pabram dam, 67
MW Khongnem Chakha dam over the Barak River and the proposed oil exploration, Trans Asian Railway works in Manipur was deliberated. Gailungpao Gonmei, member of Sibilong village performed a folksong representing the Rongmei people’s relationship with the Ahu (Barak) River. Jiten Yumnam, Secretary CRA, Manipur, shared on the possible impacts of 190 MW Pabram Dam and 1500 MW Tipaimukh dam. Ms. Akhonliu
Gangmei, President Women Society, Nungba, shared on the potential impacts of proposed oil exploration on rivers and land. Maharabi Kangjam, child rights activist, and Phulindro Konsam, chairman Committee on Human Rights, also shared on defending community rights over land and resources in Manipur.
Another community protest meet was also organised at Toubam village along the Irang River on March 14, where the impacts of proposed 60 MW Irang Hydroelectric Project over Irang River was deliberated.
Rangthieu Kamei, chairman of Toubam village authority, shared on the livelihood dependence of Irang River to indigenous communities, while Ms. Rumi Gonmei, President Women Society of Toubam village, and Dinthourei.
Gonmei, former village secretary, expressed concern with the proposed 60 Irang Dam for its multifaceted and inter-generational impacts. Homen Thangjam shared on social and environment impacts of dams in Manipur.
Participants of the International Rivers Day celebration at Sibilong village and Irang village organised a brief protest and resolved that the Barak River, Irang River and all other rivers in Manipur should be allowed to flow free. The participants also resolved against proposed 1500 MW Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project, 190 MW Pabram dam, 67 MW Khongnem Chakha dam, 60 MW Irang Dam proposed over Barak and Irang Rivers. It resolved that Khuga Dam, Khoupum dam and other non-performing dams should be decommissioned.
Reaffirming that their lives depended on land, river, forest and all resources, the participants urged the government to implement the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 and recommendations of World Commission on Dams 2000.