Sinlung /
29 September 2010

Mizoram Anti Dam in Protest In Aizawl

SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 1
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 2
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 3
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 4
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 5

SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 6


SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 7
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 8 
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 9
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 10
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 11
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 12
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 13
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 14
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 15
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest 16
SHDC Mizoram Anti Dam Protest
Memorandum Below

Submitted by Sinlung Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Organisation (SIPHRO) and Sinlung Peoples Collective

To, 28th September 2010

Shri Lal Thanhawla
Hon’ble Chief Minister of Mizoram

Subject: Implement Moratorium on Dams in Sinlung Hills, Mizoram.

Sir,

All our small and big rivers (Tuiruong and Tuivai - Tipaimukh Dam (1500 MW), Tuivai (210 MW), Serlui- (12 MW), Tuivawl ( 40 MW), Tuirial (60 MW) in Mizoram’s Sinlung Hills are proposed to be dammed. When Mizoram requires only 100-160 MW for its own consumption, the imposition of these projects in our small land clearly points to the extermination of our land and people in the name of development. Moreover, these projects are without our knowledge, consent and approval. We were never informed, consulted or intimated in any manner regarding these destructive projects that are already threatening us in our ancestral land. These projects are undemocratic and imposed upon us.

Serlui B hydel project has already pushed our people out of our land, alienated our people from their stable livelihood system and deprived us of our citizenship and democratic rights. Villages affected by the Serlui B Hydel project are already in a state of environmental refugees. Worse, the major share of compensation out of Serlui B project and Tuirial Multipurpose Hydro Electric Project were bagged by the rich, influential and powerful lots from Mizoram’s Aizawl; people who were never affected by these projects. These projects are indiscriminate and inhumane in all its form. They should never be allowed to take shape in the name of development. Our experiences with small hydel projects show that there is lax or near absent regulatory mechanisms, which in turn cause environmental degradation and large-scale displacement of people. The implementing agencies, both the State as well as non-State agencies, are merely institutionalizing injustice in the name of development. The deprived tribals should not be allowed to be further marginalized from their land and of their Constitutional rights.

The proposed projects failed to be transparent in all its planning process. All information’s about these dams that, otherwise, are supposed to link, inform and educate the affected people did not reach them. Information has become a costly property in the hands of the few powerful groups who will never be affected by the dam, but who sought monetary compensation, contract job and other benefits from the project. The entire covert practice is a negation of the Fundamental Rights of the marginalized tribals who will be affected by these projects.

Despite the high-risk the proposed projects embody, it not only fails to inform the threatened people about the possible adverse impact, but also fails to represent their approved consent. In short, these projects did not take into consideration the existence of the tribals/indigenous peoples and their rights. The tribals have no role or say in any stages of the decision making process that, otherwise, should require their active participation. The entire evolved process has made it evident that the proposed projects are not people friendly projects.

Instead of informing and educating the threatened tribals, the implementing agency, the State actors as well as non-State actors, took advantage of the ignorance of the information deprived tribals who will be severely impacted by these projects. The unwanted conduct is a discrimination and negation of the Fundamental Rights of the tribals.

The Government of Mizoram’s experiences with Dams is marred with failure. This is evident with the cases of Serlui ‘B’ project, Kau Tlabung and Tuipang Hydel Project. The Government of Mizoram should withdraw from its adventurous attempt to dam all our small and big rivers in Sinlung Hills, in the name of development, when it severely failed to achieved good practices with the small projects. It is our humble request that the Government of Mizoram reconsiders its policy on dams and focus on the welfare of its people, their citizenship and democratic rights.

Similarly, with a poor and failed record of implementing policies on dams and any development projects, breakdown of law and order and governance, the Government of Manipur does not qualify to be one of the implementing agencies to dam our rivers by playing with the lives of its citizens, forests, rivers, and rights in the name of development. When the Government of Manipur is incapable of reforming its governance, law and order, it should rather review its existing practices with development projects before taking up Tipaimukh Dam. The Government of Manipur should not exploit the strength of its militarized State to built Tipaimukh Dam. We cannot bear to afford militarization taking over the destructive project, our land, rivers and forests. The Government of Manipur should not conveniently exploit the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to pursue the controversial project. There can be no compensation for the social, human, security and environmental cost and crisis that it will create for the tribals who will be affected. The controversial project is increasing social, economic and political exclusion and injustice for the tribals. The Government of Manipur is institutionalizing injustice to the Hmars and other affected communities by the project. Furthermore, it will alienate the people and their rights from their ancestral land, forest, rivers, and natural resources.

We, the people of Sinlung Hills, do not give our consent and approval to the recently signed (April 28, 2010) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of Manipur, National Hydro-electric Power Corporation (NHPC) and Shimla-based Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVN) for the construction of Tipaimukh Dam, by damming our river Tuiruong and Tuivai. Besides destroying hundreds of kilometers of our virgin forest and jhum land, the proposed project will directly affect fourteen (14) villages in Sinlung Hills, Mizoram: Sawleng, Darlawn, New Vervek, Sailutar, Sakawrdai, Khawlek, Vaitin, Vanbawng, Khawpuar, Suangpuilawn, Ratu, Phullen, NE Tlangnuam, and Lungsum. We shall not allow these projects to ruin, plunder and rob our right to life. We shall not allow the Government of Manipur to capitalize its militarized power and invade our land and rivers, our dignity and freedom.

The implementing agencies of these projects did not disseminate any information regarding these destructive structures. We have no confidence in any of the implementing agencies who will plunder and ruin our land, rivers and people for their profit driven interests.

We would like to draw your kind attention to NHPC’s track record with hydro-power which is alarmingly poor in all the important aspects. If one looks at NHPC’s performance, in case of Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Chamera I and II projects in HimachalPradesh, Loktak project in Manipur, Koel Karo project in Jharkhand, Lower Subansiri project in Arunachal Pradesh, Teesta Low Dam stage III project in North Bengal, Salal and Uri projects in Jammu and Kashmir, Dul Hasti project in Jammu and Kashmir, Baira Saul project in Himachal Pradesh and Tanakpur and Dhauliganga projects in Uttaranchal, Rangit project in Sikkim, it is evident that NHPC severely failed in good practices, creating irresponsible disaster to land, people and resources, displacing people without proper relief, rehabilitation and resettlement measures, violating human rights, huge cost and time overruns, causing construction related disaster, poor social and environmental standards. In many cases NHPC did not even have an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment as well. Worst, NHPC have also, in many cases, failed to avail free, prior information for the affected people. Many times, NHPC pursue its projects without informing the targeted people about public hearings. In short, NHPC has been involved in severe violations of current Indian environment norms. We shall not allow such irresponsibility and inhumane activities to repeat in our land.

Moreover, the only safe areas that will not be affected by these dam projects are targeted to be converted into Pualreng Wildlife Sanctuary. In this pursuit, the authorities are doggedly scheming to purchase the community and private land and forests of four villages- Khawdungsei, Mauchar, Zohmun and Palsang. These villages have been asked to received their share of “compensation” and vacate their villages. These villages have taken resolution to live on their ancestral land and not to take any such “compensation”. Despite strong protest lodged by the authorities of these villages, the State authorities failed to take heed of their humane stand.

We are strongly against the indiscriminate attempt of the State authorities to push the villagers out of their land to make way for a wildlife sanctuary. It is our humble demand that the concerned authorities immediately stop its inhumane activities and allow our peopled to peacefully co-exist with our land, forests and rivers.

The unbridled pursuit of monetary profit by few individuals at enormous environmental, social and human cost will inevitably lead to the growing alienation and deprivation of our people in our own land. The implementing agencies, without the prior, informed consent of the affected people, had breached obligations to respect and protect the Constitutional and democratic rights of the Hmar people and other communities. Moreover, we are not aware of any of the mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Social Impact Assessment (SIA), and our entitlements. These projects, by destroying our rivers, forests, land and people, will only benefit few, but influential and powerful coterie.

The proposed projects are not people’s friendly projects and stand against any democratic principles. It is our sincere request to the Government of Mizoram to respect the time honored Hmar- Mizo tribal customs, rights, traditional land holdings system and not to give its approval for any clearance to any of these projects.

In the pursuit of justice, fairness, respect by realizing our Constitutional rights, the marginalized peoples of Sinlung Hills,Mizoram demands that:

1. The implementing agencies, State as well as non-State actors should immediately rethink, implement moratorium and withdraw from pursuing these destructive projects and save our land and people from irreparable destruction. The State as well as non-State actors ought to know that our land, rivers and forests are the backbone of our existence and survival. Our citizenship and democratic rights that are integrally embedded with our land, forests and rivers must be safeguarded and protected for all time to come.

2. The haves and influential coterie from Mizoram and Manipur should stop their selfish quest for securing contract job and compensation by negating the ancestral dwellers.

3. There should be Constitutional Safeguards for securing and developing our land, our people, our rights and our future.

Copy to:

Mizoram

1. His Excellency MM Lakhera, Governor of Mizoram.

2. Home Minister of Mizoram.

3. Minister of Environment and Forests.

4. Press.

5. NGOs.

Centre

1. Prime Minister of India

2. Shri P Chidambaram, Union Home Minister.

3 Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister for Environment and Forests.

4. Shri Naveen Verma, Joint Secretary, North East, Ministry of Home Affairs.

Others

1. Chief Minister of Manipur

2. CMD, NEEPCO, Shillong, Meghalaya.

3. CMD, NHPC, Faridabad.

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