The apex Tangkhul headmen association – Tangkhul Naga Wungnao Long president SA Ramnganing said that traditional rights over land and resources protected by the constitution of India has been threatened due to conflict of interest between the hills and valleys people.
He made this statement at the one day consultative meeting on failure of Memorandum of Agreement and afforestation of catchment area held at Riha village on Wednesday, jointly organised by TNWL and (MDAHCEO).
SA Ramnganing, president TNWL maintained that villages residing in the Mapithel dam catchment area has been facing the heat of the project for quite sometime. “The genuine grievances and voices being raised by the aggrieved parties to addressed their concerns never got materialised. Given the untold hardships being faced by the people what has been agreed upon in-principle between the signatories of Memorandum of Agreement on 4 December, 2020 has to be abided by.
The president of the apex headmen council of Tangkhul had also further urged the state government and authorities concern to do the needful at the earliest.
“In view of this development today, consultation meeting was necessitated,” he said adding that their claim is purely based on Article 371C of the India constitution and not vice versa.
He alleged that the afforestation programme within the catchment area by the state government are purely honey coated programs devoid of substance. “This afforestation plans would be flatly opposed and rejected by all the right thinking tribal people”.
Meanwhile, M Ngaranmi, chairman Mapithel Dam Affected Headmen, Chiefs and Elders Organisation (MDAHCEO) had retorted that no forestation should be taken up at Mapithel dam catchment area and called to dismantle the Mapithel-Thoubal Multi Purpose dam so that the affected villages could reclaim their jhum and wet lands and begin afresh in their original land because the affected land owners and villagers has been facing untold hardships.
Since all our demands had fallen into deaf ears, the land affected concerned organisations had sent one representation addressing to the chief minister and competent state authority to dismantle the Mapithel dam as our agreement were not fulfilled.
He continued that the dam affected area organisations and state government entered into 19 point agreement on 4 December, 2020. So far only 3 (three) per cent has been initiated, even that per cent has not been fully completed.
We sent one ultimatum on September this year, however, there was no response. Following which, we imposed bandh along Imphal to Ukhrul and Imphal to Kamjong National highways on October 6 and 7. Even here, government did not take any action. Then again on October 11, another agitation was launched at Lamlai khunou with the sole intent to draw the attention and made known our grievances, he shared and retorted that no action was taken amid series of agitation.
It may be mentioned that the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between Government of Manipur as first party and Joint Action Committee Agaist Forced Construction of Mapithel Dam (JAC-FCMD) and Mapithel Dam Affected Headmen, Chiefs and Elders Organisation (MDAHCEO) as second party.
SA.Ramnganing, president Tangkhul Naga Wungnao Long (TNWL), Turner Raihing, president Tangkhul Naga Foothills Organisation (TNFO), M Ngaranmi, chairman Mapithel Dam Affected Headmen, Chiefs and Elders Organisation (MDAHCEO), and Wungreikhan Kasar attended as the resource persons.
Meanwhile in a separate press release issued by MDAHCEO and JAC-FCMD said that one day consultative meeting on “Failure of Memorandum of Agreement signed on 4-12-2020 and Misguided Afforestation at Catchment Areas of Mapithel Dam” was held at Riha village on Wednesday.
It then decried that Water Resources department, government of Manipur; and district authorities of Ukhrul, Kamjong, Yangpokpi and Imphal East is yet to implement the agreement reached till date.
A joint representation was sent on October last directing chief minister, and competent authority to dismantle the dam citing failure to comply the 19 points, it added.
That forest department, government of Manipur is planning and had misguided the affected villages at catchment areas of Mapithel dam by way of massive afforestation under India Forest Act 1927 (16 of 1927) by forcibly acquiring tribal lands without any mutual agreements, it alleged.
It further charged that forest department is planning to take misguided afforestation at catchment areas through unauthorised valley based NGOs and other agencies without the concern of the life affected tribal villagers, and termed it as an illegal act.
Forestation at catchment areas of Mapithel dam should be stopped. “No forestation at catchment areas,” it thundered.