Saturday 8 February 2014

Selected Media Reportages

1) MDAVO denounces Ministry's approval

IMPHAL, Jan 11, 2014 : Following the CCDD way, the Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organisation (MDAVO) while denouncing the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Government of India's approval for the final Stage II Forest Clearance for Mapithel Dam construction in Manipur under fraudulent conditions on Dec 31, 2013, demanded the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest to revoke its letter to the Government of Manipur conceding final stage II Forest Clearance for Mapithel Dam to ensure social and economic justice in the land.  
The MoEF should insist on its recommendations to the Government of Manipur to apply the Forest Rights Act, 2006 and to take the consent of the traditional institutions of the affected communities and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs should rather promote the interest and rights of tribal peoples affected by Mapithel Dam in Manipur and should recommend the full compliance of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 in the case of Mapithel Dam, a statement issued by the chairman of MDAVO, R Sakathan demanded.
It further urged the Manipur Government to stop construction of Mapithel Dam till the consent of all affected communities are taken with.
The matter of forest diversion of 595 hac does not come to the knowledge of the affected land owners till today. The compensatory Afforestation planned over twice the area to be submerged is also not informed to the affected communities. MDAVO is left at a lurch as to how the forest diversion and compensation afforestation etc will take place without informing and taking consent of the communities affected by Mapithel dam.
Registering strong objection to the grant of forest clearance without proper Impact assessment on environment, ecology, social, economic, cultural, health perspective of the project by the implementing authority /agency, the statement said that the de-recognition of tribal Forest dwellers rights on forest, based on the FRA 2006 is a straight violation. As such, it strongly condemned MoEF and demanded revocation of the Forest Clearance grant to the State Govt.
MDAVO also considered the act of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) conceding extraordinary ‘exceptions’ to the application of “Forest Rights Act, 2006” in the case of Mapithel Dam construction and exempting the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Government of Manipur not to implement Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA, 2006) for the project as a clear disrespect and an act of discrimination against the tribal people who will lose their land.   
Endorsing the Manipur Government’s reference to the 1993 agreement for Rehabilitation as semblance of ‘consent’ under FRA, 2006 by the MoEF and MoTA is unacceptable as the agreement is marred with serious and continuing violations, it said that the payment of land compensation to be done in 1994-1995 according to the agreement is not fulfilled till today. The same matter is under review in the Expert Review Committee process formed in January 2008.
The insistence on 1993 agreement as receiving ‘consent’ taken from the village Chiefs to claim exemption from Forest Rights Act, 2006 by the Manipur Government is not acceptable as the same was confirmed to be defective and immature by the state itself in 2003 and further the Village Authorities in the affected area are not authorised to sell their tribal forest land, even under the 1993 agreement. No forest land is acquired under the 1993 agreement as it was just a condition or terms for the deed.
Beside, the villagers under Catchment Area for the Mapithel Dam Multipurpose project, strongly objected the planned acquisition of 565 sq km of their forest land without their consultation and consent. The affected villagers also maintained that any occupation of their forest land not through the FRA, 2006, is a straight challenge to their traditional forest rights.
MDAVO also questioned the MoEF as to how it cleared Forest Clearance without any applicable Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for Mapithel Dam and how the MoEF and MoTA refers to 1993 as compliance of rules. 

2) Activists welcomes rejection of Tipaimukh dam by FAC

Aug 9, 2013: The anti-dam activists in the North Eastern states have welcomed the rejection of the Tipaimukh dam by the Forest Advisory Committee. However the Union government feels that this could be overcome. In fact India has been in consultation with Bangladesh on the issue of the construction of the dam which will generate 1500 MW out of which Manipur will get 15 per cent free of charge as the host state. The mega dam is set to be constructed at the junction of Mizoram, Assam and Manipur. 
All these years Manipur and Mizoram have been objecting to it. However the recurring flood in the Barak valley in Assam shall be controlled and vast areas could be brought under agriculture and horticulture. A consultative meeting on the proposed Tipaimukh hydroelectric power project was held at Manipur Press club on Thursday. Organised by the Union NGO Mission Manipur the speakers pleaded not to construct the dam since Manipur stands to lose in many ways. 27,777.50 hectares of forest will be subjected to diversion. At least 13 tribal villages will be submerged in the dam waters. Some portions of highway 37 will be destroyed. Besides there will be irreparable loss in flora and fauna. 
At the end of the meeting ten resolutions were taken. It said, among others, that the recommendation of the World Commission on dams, the UN declarations on the rights of the indigenous peoples should be implemented. Now that the Forest Advisory Committee has rejected the Tipaimukh dam it also called for the revocation of the environment clearance of the mega project given on October 24, 2008. 
Meanwhile NGOs and some high officials in Meghalaya are not happy with the statement of Jyotiraditya M. Scindia that 1279 sites have been identified in the NE region for setting up mini hydel projects. 97 of the sites are said to be located in Meghalaya. Ranking officials say that they are not aware of these sites. Some NGOs say that since these sites are believed to be located in private land the owners will not readily cooperate. They said that if the mini hydel projects come up Meghalaya will be submerged. 
The speakers in the consultative meeting in Imphal said that since the dam will doom the fate of the posterity and today's generation should do everything to oppose the proposed dam. The Manipur Assembly had also adopted a resolution to oppose the dam since Manipur stands to lose in many ways. However within a few years the Manipur government was prevailed upon to extend cooperation. 

3) Protection of human rights defenders

HNS/Imphal, Oct 17, 2013 : Committee on Protection of Natural Resource in Manipur, North East Dialogue Forum, All Tribal Students Union Manipur, All Zeliangrong Students Union, Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, Human Rights Initiative, Naga Women's Union, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur'and Sinlung Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Organization would jointly organised a "Convention on Protection of Human Rights Defenders of Manipur" at Manipur Press Club, Majorkhul, Imphal on 19th October 2013 at 10:30 A.M. 
The Convention has been planned in the backdrop of increasing targeting of human rights defenders and their organizations in Manipur by security forces operating under emergency laws in Manipur. The convention will also discuss the patterns of targeting human rights defenders and adopt specific resolution and strategies to promote the human rights and protection of human rights defenders of Manipur.
Chandam Brajachand, MJS, Grade I will grace the Convention as Chief Guest. Yambem Laba, Former member of Manipur Human Rights Commission and Wangkhemcha  Shyamjai, President of All Manipur Working Journalist Union (AMWJU), Kangjam Maharabi, Member of Manipur Commission on Protection of Child Rights will grace the Convention as Guest of Honors.   Rakesh Meihoubam, Director of Human Rights Law Network, Babloo Loitongbam, Executive Director of Human Rights Alert, Dr. Debabrata Roy Laifungbam, President of Elders Council, Centre for Organization Research and Education, Ms. Aram Pamei, Ex- President of Naga Women Union, Jiten Yumnam, Secretary of Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, Nobokishore, Secretary of North East Dialogue Forum, Traite of Sinlung Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Organization, Dr. RK Ranjan, Chairperson of Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, Majabung Gangmei, Spokesperson of ATSUM, Phulindro Konsam, Chairperson of Committee on Human Rights, Pradip Keisam of Manipur Alliance for Child Rights will present sharings on protection of human rights defenders in Manipur.
The scheduled Manipur State Level Convention on Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Manipur is being organized in the context of increasing targetting of human rights defenders and their organizations in Manipur by security forces operating under emergency laws in Manipur. The convention will also discuss the patterns of targetting human rights defenders and adopt specific resolution and strategies to promote the human rights and protection of human rights defenders of Manipur.  I would like to thank you for your timely presence.

4) Locals object land demarcation

IMPHAL, Dec 20, 2013 : Locals of Takyel Khongbal Mayai Leikai today objected demarcation of land at Takyelpat for the construction of Government office buildings. Following an order issued by Imphal West DC, a team of Government officials led by SDC concerned tried to demarcate land at the area this morning. However, local club executives, meira paibees and villagers objected the move of the Government.
The locals submitted an application to DC Imphal West through the SDC requesting him to postpone demarcation of land for 15 days. Later, the locals conducted a public meeting at TUPO ground and resolved that even an inch of land would not be given to the Government. The meeting also decided to form a pressure group christened Takyelpat Land Protection Committee to spearhead movements against Government’s move.
Convenor of the newly formed body, Sapam Rajbapu said that villagers of Takyel Khongbal would stand against land acquisition at Takyelpat till death. He also warned that the State Government must be held responsibility of any untoward incident arising out of their indifferent attitude towards the common voice of the people of the area. The Government has already acquired around 40 paris of agricultural land for the construction of Sports Authority of India (SAI) complex and around 25 paris of land for Government offices like State Academy of Training, Manipur Science Museum, MANIREDA and IBSD etc, he said. As such, people of the area would not allow to take away the remaining 15 paris of land, where many people are residing, Rajbapu said. Mentioning that the State Government had also tried to acquire land in 1974 and 1987, Rajbapu said that the plan was abandoned due to intense resistance from the people of the area. He also said that a youth died in police firing following a flare-up erupted between police and agitating villagers in 1974. Rajbapu urged the Government to act according to the wish of the general public.

5) RK Ranjan flays ring road plan

Imphal, December 22, 2013: Taking serious note of the notification issued on November 8 this year for acquisition of land for construction of a ring road from Sendra to Ishok around Loktak Lake, Dr RK Ranjan has questioned whether the State Government has studied the Land Acquisition Amendment Act passed by the Parliament last year.   
In protest against the Government plan to acquire land for the ring road, people of 19 villages held a meeting at Khoijuman Langol Ningthou community hall today. A large number of farmers and fishermen who would be affected by the land acquisition move attended the meeting. Speaking at the meeting, environmentalist Dr RK Ranjan said that according to the Land Acquisition Amendment Act, the Government should first obtain consent of the people if it should acquire land for any project. The Government has no authority to bulldoze its way.  
Villagers need to find out whether the land acquisition notification was issued by the State Government after studying the Land Acquisition Amendment Act. If it happens that the Government issued the notification without studying the amended Act, people should register their objection with the authorities concerned. Construction of ring road around Loktak Lake may help in maintaining a healthy water level for power generation but it would destroy a large number of fish farms which are the only source of livelihood for poor fishing families, Ranjan said. Almost all the 19 villagers which would be left outside the ring road and large areas of paddy fields and fish farmers would be submerged under water. It is also crucial to find out whether the Loktak Protection Act and the proposed ring road have any link.  
If the people are against the proposed ring road which is being planned in the interest of big corporate bodies, it is the right time to raise a strong voice of objection, he asserted. 
BJP State unit president Th Chaoba said that the State Government is still unable to pay full compensation to the people affected by Loktak Project. After several huts belonging to fishing families have been set ablaze, the Government is again planning to take over more land. The Government's move is an open invitation for strong mass movement. Human right activist W Joykumar opined that the local MLAs consent would be surely taken even if people were not given prior information. The Government ought to inform the people about the project and take their consent in compliance with general procedures.

6) Ring road around Loktak proposed

BISHNUPUR, Dec 22, 2013 : The Fish Farmers’ Society has today organised a public meeting at Khoijuman Yangoi Ningthou Community hall regarding the construction of a ring road around Loktak Lake from Ishok to Sendra. 
During the meeting, Thounaojam Chaoba, ex union minister and president BJP Manipur Pradesh, N Ibopishak, pradhan of the Khoijuman Kwasiphai GP and CRA secretary Jiten Yumnam, environmentalist Dr RK Ranjan Singh, Human Rights Initiative director W Joykumar, senior wrestling coach W Chaobalal attended the public meeting as chief guest, president and guests of honour respectively. 
The meeting was participated by the land holding dwellers from Ishok to Sendra who will be evacuated due to the construction of the ring road. The meeting further discussed the grievances that will be faced by the people dwelling around the lake.  
Five resolutions including that the ring road be constructed considering the grievances of the people, and enough compensation was provided to the affected families, the formation of a farmers’ body and submission of a memorandum to the concerned authorities to review the construction of the ring road were passed during the meeting.

6) Power dept corporatisation finds Cabinet approval, process from Feb

IMPHAL, December 26, 2013 : The state Cabinet today has granted approval in principle to the proposal for corporatisation of the electricity department. The process is expected to begin from the month of February, next year.  Government spokesperson and education minister M Okendro stated that the agreement for transforming the government department into a corporate was taken at the Cabinet meeting chaired by the chief minister O Ibobi at the CM secretariat this morning.  He continued that the meeting also reviewed the previous decision of the Cabinet to cancel the involvement of transport contractors of food grains during the distribution of essential items under the Targeted Public Distribution System in four valley districts. The matter was discussed minutely before the decision was taken, he stated. 
The earlier decision had entrusted the district administration to carry out the work for ferrying the items under the TPDS, replacing the transport contractors. However, the delegation of the responsibility to the district administration had intensified their workload and created extra burden, necessitating a re-think, the minister said.   Okendro further informed that the meeting discussed the plans for introduction of National Food Security Act in Manipur from March, next year. In this regard, the Cabinet took a decision to notify the DCs and ADCs to complete the identification of priority households before January 15, 2014. The last date for receipt of forms had been fixed on January 10, 2014. The DCs and ADCs will be advised to carry out comprehensive publicity campaign for maximum circulation of the forms, he added. 
The minister added that in order to achieve glorious success in the implementation of the Act, the Cabinet agreed to set up the required number of fair price shops in the Assembly constituencies and the construction of the additional shops will be funded by the Local Area Development Fund of the respective MLA. The Cabinet further gave its approval to the prorogation of the sixth session of the 10th Manipur Legislative Assembly, said the minister. Today’s Cabinet also approved the establishment of the State Society for Management of Institute of Hotel Management, the minister added. 

8) Oil drilling: ATSUM- Govt ready for showdown
HNS/Imphal, Jan 10, 2014: Voicing strongly against exploitation of natural resources in hill areas of the State, All Tribal Students' Union, Manipur (ATSUM) has been pressuring the authorities concerned to revoke the licenses of the companies engaged in oil drilling works at some hill areas in the State.
The oil drilling works are likely to be disrupted in the near future due to mounting pressure from the ATSUM. However, the State Government is committed to thwart any obstruction to the oil drilling. Moreover, the Government is planning to organize mass awareness programmes on exploration of natural resources and its benefits to the people.
The awareness programme would be organized to sensitize the people on various aspects of oil drilling and make them aware of the agreement signed between the State Government and the companies, assurance for not causing harm to the environment in the process of oil drilling, benefits from exploration of petroleum and natural gases in other states, and prevention of disasters with relevant case studies.
The Chief Secretary would also discuss organizing field trips to oil drilling sites in Assam and Tripura along with the representatives of ATSUM and other social organizations.
The oil drilling began in the State after the contract was awarded to a company by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gases, and later a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the State Government and the company.  The Jubilant House Private Limited is undertaking the oil drilling works at two places in Churachandpur and Tamenglong districts.
Even though there is much likelihood of the presence of petroleum products in the State, there is no guarantee that petroleum products would be found in the speculated areas alone. Even in case the petroleum is found, the company exploring the petroleum products would experience loss if the amount turns out to be little.

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