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No MoU between NHPC and Government of Manipur for Loktak Project

IMPHAL: The Loktak Project Affected Areas Action Committee, Committee on Human Rights, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur and the Irabot Foundation, Manipur would like to express our deep concern with the absence of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation and the Government of Manipur on the operation and functioning of the 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project, which was commissioned way back in 1984.

The non-existence of an MoU on 105 MW Loktak Project has been confirmed by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) on 9 May 2017 in response to an RTI filed by Mr. Joy Haobijam, whose land was submerged and affected by the Loktak Project.

It is highly unfortunate that there is no regulation and terms and condition on the operation of Loktak Project which also indicates that the NHPC has been given a complete free hand without any monitoring, regulation and accountability mechanism. This is highly problematic as the Loktak Project is one of the most unsustainable project, causing widespread submergence of more than 50 thousands hectares of agriculture land and the project proponent, NHPC, refusing to take responsibility for such loss of land, for the suffering caused to the people and for environmental impacts in Loktak wetlands.

Further, the Loktak Project is also responsible forthe recurrent floods in Manipur, as evident in 2017, by impounding the rain waters that should actually be drained naturally through the Manipur River. The Loktak Project has become a real symbol of plunder and exploitation of the land and resources of Manipur and is also a key factor for underming food sovereignty of Manipur.

The continued operation of the Loktak Project without any accountability undermines the significance of Loktak wetlands, which is classified as a Ramsar site, which is a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The Loktak project is also responsible for continued suffering of fishing communities, by promulgating the Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006.

The Government of Manipur should take full responsibility by reviewing 105 MW Loktak Project and to take appropriate steps to decommission the Ithai Barrage at the earliest. The Government of Manipur should also urge upon the NHPC to take responsibility and accountability for the sufferings unleashed on communities and for the environment devastations in Loktak wetlands. The Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006 should also be repealed to recognize the rights and role of fishing communities in the sustainable management of Loktak wetlands and to uphold the true spirit of Ramsar Conventions. 

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