Baptist pastors in the Northeast Indian state of Manipur are protesting the construction of the Mapithel Dam.
The dam, part of the Thoubal Multipurpose Project, will utilize water from the Yangwui Kong River to provide irrigation for 21,860 hectares (54,000 acres) of farm land, as well as a 7.5 megawatt electricity generation plant for Imphal, the capital of Manipur.
The pastors allege that some 12,000 persons, most of them Christians, will be displaced by the construction of the dam. They told the Baptist World Alliance that 777 hectares or 1,920 acres of the affected area comprise rice paddy fields; 293 hectares, or 725 acres, of jhum, land cleared for cultivation; and 111 hectares, or 274 acres, are homestead. In addition, “595 hectares (1,470 acres) of forest areas will be submerged.”
“Huge tracts of paddy fields, river, forest and grazing grounds will be submerged in the upstream Christian villages of Riha (Loutei), Thoyee, Shangkai Kuki, Zalenbung, Sharkaphung of Ukhrul District,” they said. “Downstream villages such as Nongdam Tangkhul of Ukhrul District, Thangjingpokpi and Maphou Village in the Senapati District and Tumukhong and Moirangpurel in Imphal East District are adversely affected.”
As a result, “they are losing their immovable assets handed down by their ancestors which have been the principal means of livelihood since time immemorial.”
At least two church buildings, one Baptist and one Catholic, will be destroyed and their burial grounds lost.
Protestors allege that the authorities have engaged in a “divide and rule policy” and that “there have been no proper and comprehensive resettlement and rehabilitation program for the affected villagers.” Furthermore, “no impact assessment on socio-economic and religious perspective [was] ever conducted.”
The pastors demand that the involuntary displacement of villages and the submergence of graveyards be stopped, and that the plights of the villagers be addressed. “Otherwise the grievances and damage caused to the affected people will become irreparable throughout generations.”
Baptist World Alliance®
© September 11, 2015