Tipaimukh Dam to affect 20 villages in Mizoram

Aizawl: People in Mizoram to be affected by the controversial Tipaimukh Dam have written to the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) to desist from giving forest clearance as the committee is scheduled to sit on the matter on August 13 and 14.

The 1500 MW hydro project, to be built on the confluence of rivers on Mizoram-Manipur border, will destroy 1551 hectares of land and forests in Mizoram.

According to the Affected People’s Association of Tipaimukh Hydro Electric Project, twenty villages will be affected by this project. Of these 14 villages will be left with no forests and jhumlands, viz. Sawleng, Darlawn, New Vervek, Sailutar, Sakawrdai, Khawlek, Vaitin, Vanbawng, Khawpuar, Suangpuilawn, Ratu, Phullen, North East Tlangnuam, and Lungsum.

This, according to the memorandum to the FAC, was unfortunately not mentioned in the Mizoram environment & forest department’s fact sheet.

“The environmental and social destruction that the dam project will wreak in Manipur has already been noted by the Forest Advisory Committee in its sitting on July 11 and 12, 2013 and rejected it. It is therefore clear that the project will wreak equal if not more damage on the Mizoram side,” the memo said.

A total of 14,634 trees including 11,306 trees below 60 cm girth have been stated to be affected. It has further been stated that about 40.4 lakh of bamboo culms are also falling in the bamboo area of 1063.4 ha of bamboo forest involved in the dam project. This loss will totally destroy the people in the area who depend on these forests for their sustenance and have done since time immemorial.

“The fact sheet provided by the environment & forest department of Mizoram says that the forest is ‘degraded’ jhumlands, this only goes to prove that these have been our agricultural lands since the very beginning. But these same forests and lands house our medicinal plants, our food, our minor forest produce for our sustenance. The rivers give us fish and other river foods, which supplements our diets for our nourishment,” the affected people said in the memorandum.

The letter also pointed out that several public hearings had been conducted and in all these meetings the Affected People’s Association of Tipaimukh Hydro-Electric Project have unequivocally made it clear that the people in the submergence area are against the dam in any form.

“We tender our strong objections to the notion that a company, in this case the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), a dam building company and the Forest Department of Mizoram are recommending the submergence or destruction of our forests to the breadth of 1551 hectares including prime riverine areas on which we as a people and community depend upon for our day to day lives and on which our future generations will depend upon for their survival,” it said.

Requesting the FAC to revoke the environmental clearance given to the Tipaimukh Hydro Electric Dam and we requesting the government of India to ensure that such anti-people projects are not planned and implemented in their lands in the future, the memorandum said, “No amount of money can compensate us for the loss of our lands and forests.

We, the affected people stand firm on their resolution to stand against this project which means nothing but destruction for our people, they said.

The memorandum signed by the association general secretary Lalpekliana, was addressed to Jude Sekhar, chairperson, Forest Advisory Committee, director general of forests and special secretary, ministry of environment and forest, government of India. (UNI)

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