Imphal, Aug 30 (IANS) A citizens' group Thursday opposed the formation of an India-Bangladesh joint sub-group on Manipur's Tipaimukh power project.
The mega-power project, one of the largest in northeastern India, is vital for meeting the increasing electricity demand in the region, but has been opposed by environmental groups and opposition parties in Bangladesh.
"Any decision on Tipaimukh dam construction cannot be bilaterally decided only by India and Bangladesh as the land, rivers, forests and all resources in Manipur belong to the indigenous people of our state. The sub group formation without indigenous communities is disregarding (a) recommendation from the UN," Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD) co-chairperson, Aram Pamei, told IANS.
India and Bangladesh constituted the joint sub-group on the Tipaimukh dam to facilitate an early construction of the proposed 1,500 MW mega dam over Barak river at Tipaimukh village in western part of Manipur.
Pamei said: "Forming sub group between the two countries also excludes indigenous communities to be affected by the Tipaimukh dam, constituting a complete disregard of the long standing demands of the indigenous peoples of Manipur to respect their rights over their land and resources and to stop Tipaimukh dam construction processes without their free, prior and informed consent."
The Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydel Project on the Barak river, some 200 km upstream of the Bangladesh border, is under attack in Bangladesh with opposition parties and environmental groups saying it could cause desertification downstream.
The public sector power utilities National Hydroelectric Power Corp (NHPC) and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) would develop the Rs.8,138-crore Tipaimukh project.
Part of the Brahmaputra river system, the Barak bifurcates into the Surma and Kushiyara rivers on entering Sylhet district in eastern Bangladesh.
"Indigenous people of Manipur cannot accept any secretive and compromise deals between the government of India and Bangladesh for Tipaimukh dam construction and all affected peoples along Barak river should be rightfully involved in all decision making process on the proposed dam with due recognition of their inherent rights," Pamei said.
Demanding that the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Manipur government with the NHPC and SJVN should be ended, Pamei asked the union environment and forest ministry to revoke the environmental clearance.