World Wetlands Day 2005 -- India

16/03/2005

REPORT OF THE COMMEMORATION OF THE WORLD WETLANDS DAY, 2 FEBRUARY 2005, ORGANIZED BY CITIZENS' CONCERN FOR DAMS AND DEVELOPMENT AND MANIPUR ASSOCIATION FOR SCIENCE AND SOCIETY, MANIPUR AT KHUMAN LAMPAK, IMPHAL, MANIPUR

The Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD) and Manipur Association for Science and Society, (MASS), organized a "One Day Consultation on Riverine Projects in Manipur" in Commemoration of the World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2005. The commemoration was organized at Youth Centre, Khuman Lampak Imphal, Manipur.

The spirit of the commemoration of the International Day is in consideration of the proliferation of developmental projects in Manipur that reflects insensitivity to the local culture, tradition, environment and other entities, vital for survival of indigenous and tribal peoples of the state of Manipur. The consultation aims broadly to explore and collectively understand the trend of socio-cultural, health and other environmental impact and lapses of developmental projects targeting wetlands and rivers in Manipur, particularly Mapithel/Thoubal Dam, Loktak Hydro Electric Multipurpose Project and proposed Tipaimukh Dam etc. The programme also aims at sensitizing the general public on the need for respect for values, equity and sustainability with developmental issues and to form opinions towards respect of rights and responsive appropriate action.

The Commemoration, in addition to the one day consultation on Riverine projects is also marked with exhibition of posters, 'There's Wealth in Wetlands Diversity" and other stickers which the organizers received from the International Ramsar Secretariat.

The consultation commenced with a Keynote address by Joseph Hmar, Secretary, Citizen's Concern for Dams and Development. Three resource person presented deliberations highlighting the situations related to three major water resources developmental initiatives in Manipur. Dr. R.K Ranjan, Chairperson, Manipur Association for Science and Society (MASS) presented a deliberation on "Riverine Projects in Manipur: Rights upheld?", Aram Pamei, Convenor, Committee Against Tipaimukh Dam (CATD) presented an insight into "Tipaimukh Hydro Electric Project and Peoples voices" and Thanmi Kashung, Chadong Peoples Organization presented on "Mapithel Dam : the failed promises".

Displaced peoples affected by Mapithel Dam and Loktak Hydroelectric Multipurpose Project also make shared their grim experiences. KAS Yaomi, M.C Seimah, R. Kasar, from Mapithel shared how the formulation of Mapithel Dam and the implementation process of Mapithel Dam excluded local people and the extent of insensitivity to the traditions and needs. L. Nando, H Robindro, W.Prabha, residents of Borayangbi shared the hardships and inconveniences caused by Ithai Barrage of Loktak Project to villagers of Borayangbi, Khordak, Nongmaikhong etc and other places in and around Loktak Lake.
The second session commences with a presentation of an "overview of existing position statements of indigenous peoples on Riverine projects" by Jiten Yumnam, Citizen's Concern for Dams and Development and "Challenges of democratizing developmental processes" by Valley Rose Hungyo, Editor, Aja Daily.

The participants of the Consultation also adopted a resolution:

Resolutions of the One Day Consultation on "Riverine Projects in Manipur", in the Commemoration of the World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2005, Imphal, Manipur.

Recognizing that Wetlands and Rivers are at the heart of life, place for creation of our ancestors, cultures and traditions of indigenous peoples of Manipur:

Affirming that inalienable rights of the indigenous and tribal peoples of Manipur for permanent sovereignty and control, to own and manage our land, forest and water resources and for a right to free, prior and informed consent to any development projects;

And noting the fragility of the ecosystems and adverse impacts of mega developmental projects on water bodies, destroyed biological diversity, including wetlands in Manipur;

a) The need for a Wetland Management Authority in Manipur, replacing Loktak Development Authority, to enable conservation and protection of myriad wetlands in Manipur.

b) The need to have a State Water and Wetlands Policy in Manipur.

c) The need to review existing Dams in Manipur, including Loktak Hydro Electric Project and Mapithel Dam (Thoubal Multipurpose Project), Khoupum Dam, Khuga Dam etc, by a panel experts in accordance with the guidelines and recommendations of the World Commission on Dams to suggest alternatives, including the de-commissioning of Dams. The panel should include members who are chosen in consultation with the people of Manipur.

d) The Recommendations and Commitments of the Second North East Consultation on "Understanding Dams Proliferation in North East India", Shillong, Meghalaya, 20-22 August 2004, including for Mandatory Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), socio-cultural and Health Impact Assessment for all proposed water related projects in North East.

A Loktak multipurpose project-affected woman sharing grievances

Joseph Hmar, Secretary of CCDD, speaking

Valley Rose, Editor, AJA Daily, presenting "democratizing developmental process in Manipur"

"There's wealth in wetland diversity
- don't lose it!"

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