The Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur in association with the Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, Sibilong Village Authority and Toubam Village Authority celebrated a Two day International Rivers Day at Sibilong Village and Toubam Village, Tamenglong District, Manipur on 13th and 14th March 2017 with the theme “Let our Rivers Flow Free”. The celebration is aimed at revitalizing 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 Banks of Barak River on 13th March marks 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 has been deliberated. Mr. Gailungpao Gonmei, Member, VA, Sibilong Village performed a folksong, representing the Rongmei people’s relationship with the Ahu (Barak) River. Mr. 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. Mr. Maharabi Kangjam, Child rights activist and Mr. 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 organized at Toubam Village along the Irang River on 14th March, where the impacts of proposed 60 MW Irang Hydroelectric Project over Irang River was deliberated. Mr. Rangthieu Kamei, Chairman of Toubam Village Authority shared on the livelihood dependence of Irang River to indigenous communities. Ms. Rumi Gonmei, President, Women Society, Toubam Village and Mr. Dinthourei Gonmei, former Village Secretary expressed concern with the proposed 60 Irang Dam for its multifaceted and intergenerational impacts. Mr. Homen Thangjam shared on social and environment impacts of dams in Manipur.
The Participants of the International Rivers Day Celebration at Sibilong Village and Irang Village organized 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. The Khuga Dam, Khoupum Dam and other non-performing dams should be decommissioned. The participants re-affirmed that the land, river, forest and all resources is their life and urged the Government to implement the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 and recommendations of World Commission on Dams, 2000.