Mapithel Dam- Chadong Village Affected
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Yes. The Lost Villages of Canada?

Some of you are googling it up. Some remember. Some are point blank.

Let me give you a little recap on that-

The Lost Villages are ten communities in the Canadian province of Ontario which were permanently submerged by the creation of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1958. As a legacy, there is a museum in Ault Park near Long Sault- devoted to the Lost Villages- including several historic buildings salvaged from the communities. These communities were given compensations and were moved to the new planned communities of Long Sault and Ingleside. These negotiations were controversial, however, as many residents of the communities felt that market value compensation was insufficient.

But no, I am not here to talk about the Canada. Today, I want to bring to your notice how there will be India’s own Lost Villages post completion of the Thoubal Multi-purpose Project (Mapithel Dam).


Let’s start with this seemingly serene photo.

Chadong INtro

How many of you just ‘awweeddd‘ seeing this?

One look and it also almost resembles the Khecheopalri Lake in Sikkim. But this photo can be deceptive. It is not a sacred lake like Khecheopalri. Beneath this water lie trees and houses, waiting for the rot to eat it away.

Mapithel Dam- Chadong Village AffectedThis picture reminds me of the saying “the calm before the storm”. Taken on 2nd of July 2015 when the water levels were rising at a slow pace. Now the houses seen here are completely submerged.

Today, I want to show you how even before the completion of the dam, a village lie submerged. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

These are houses made of mud and wood, tins and thatches, bamboos and stones getting submerged in water. But just because it lacked concrete pavements and high-rise towers, it does not mean we can ignore them.

Submerged 4

Even big trees seem like a floating water hyacinth.

Enough with that. Let me bring you up to date with the Mapithel Dam Controversy.


Mapithel Dam, Thoubal River Valley Multipurpose Project

damn

– The planning commission of India approved the project in May 1980. Project Cost Rs.47.25 cores. Initial work began in August 1980. Targeted to complete in 1987.

– Height = 66 meter
Length = 1074 meter

 

Main Objective:

– Impound water for irrigation of 17500 hectors of cultivable land.

– Create annual irrigation potential of 26500 hectares with three crops in the Valley District of Thoubal and Imphal area.

– Supply 10 MGD/ 45.46 MLD of drinking water for the Imphal East, Imphal West district. Generate 7.5 MW electrical power.

Estimated Aftermath of The Dam: 

–  Submergence area by the Dam reservoir =  estimated 1215 hectares (around 11 Villages)

– 777.34 hectares of Paddy fields,

– 110.75 hectares of Homestead,

– 293. 53 hectares of Jhumland

– 595.1 hectares of Forest land.

However, protest against the Mapithel Dam construction started since early 1982. Reason? The absence of Free, Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of the people which is mandatory under the customary law.

After 16 round of negotiation in the span of  3 years with the High-Level Thoubal Project Rehabilitation and Resettlement Committee, the Mapithel Dam Thoubal River Valley Multipurpose Project Affected Villages Committee (MDTRVMPAVC) entered a Memorandum of Agreed Terms on 19th June 1993. Rate agreed-

– Wetland paddy field = INR 1,00000/- per acre

– Homestead land = INR 50.000/-  per acre

– Jhum land /Forest = INR 25,000/-  per acre

The compensation amount was agreed to be paid in installment within the years 1993-94 and 1994-95. In case of delay, interest on the amount of compensation was to be paid. However, the Government of Manipur (GOM), IFC Deptt. paid the land compensation to the land owners in 7 installments, a span of 8 years time.

1st Payment  –  March 1996  –   30%

2nd Payment – January 1998 –  14%

3rd Payment –  March 1998   –   7%

4th Payment – March 1999   –   5%

5th Payment – February 2000  – 14%

6th Payment – March 2002 –      3%

7th Payment – February 2003  –  7%

The TOTAL= 86% paid in 8 years.

Another series of sit-ins and protest for 5 years, Expert Review Committee was formed in 18th January 2008. By June 2011, the Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R&R) packages were left only for Lamlai Khunou and Chadong village. A total of Rs.105.44 crores was approved by the state Cabinet on 9th September. There has however been a glitch in the agreement where the numbers of families quoted exceeded the current existing families.


So, Who Will Save Chadong Village?

The question here today is not about the compensations but about the future of the displaced families.

Then and now

This is about how indigenous communities are uprooted from their sustainable traditional livelihood and left to adopt new ways of living overnight. (As seen in the image, the villages have lost their fields to the water)

Hell, if we have to talk about compensation, let’s also take a look at the relocation area as identified by the GOM.

Chadong Village RElocation 1

The picture doesnt seem to indicate a fair relocation. To me, it doesn’t. No electricity, no proper road connection, this is just a polite way of sending them back to the stone age. The confusion, however, is that even though government officials identified this place as the relocation area, there is no mention of this site in their official document.

A lot of people must be snickering, saying “Didn’t those damn souls take the money“? Or maybe one or two thinking “Oh girl, don’t you have other stories to write?“.

I get you. I do. But I would like you to take a moment and imagine your home town submerged in water. Imagine telling your friends and your kids that your school is underwater. Whether you want to brag or be nostalgic, it is of course up to you.

The truth is, whether you decide to settle down in cities or bigger town, you will crave for your humble home- the place that gave roots to you- the fields, the forest, the school, the church, the hills, and everything. Imagine the feeling of having no place to go back to?

Sorry darling, even if you know scuba diving, the current won’t let you scuba dive and visit the ruins underwater.

Now do you at least feel their pain? 


 

I am almost done here. Just a couple more current issues of Chadong I would like to leave with you. In case you haven’t been updated about the current scenario, these points will bring you to date-

#1 ISSUE- Unfulfilled R&R Compensation

In Chadong Village, the most affected village, 138 households have refused to accept the R&R compensation (the R&R alledgedly yet to be finalized).

They demand the government to fulfill the agreement between Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organisation (MDAVO) and State Government on the 26 charter of demands. The demand includes Fishing rights, Forest rights and Tourism rights which till date have been blatantly refused by the GOM.

#2 ISSUE- Lack of Transport Facility

With no proper means of transport, bamboo rafts and wooden boats are your only means to get to the other side.

First, take a ride on a bamboo raft for 7-10 minutes. Then a brief walk of 20-30 minutes to the next boating point. Finally, a 20-30 minutes boat ride to Chadong. This means that you will have to wait 2-3 hours near the water if you wish to go to Chadong.

#3 ISSUE: Lack of Basic Amenities

Due to the incessant monsoon rain in the region and the unceasing rise of water level (approx 3-4 feet every 24 hours), around 70 households have been living in a makeshift home together in about 40-50 residence.

Temporary Huts
Makeshift house in higher level areas

To top their woes, the villages have been living without electricity for months now; no medical facilities or proper access to drinking water.


 

A quick look at Chadong Village before and after the Thoubal River was blocked-

before after

Prediction


 

The Lost Village: A Photo Story

Once the Thoubal River was blocked, water slowly filled up the valley devouring the village bits by bits.

The villagers had to pack up, with a heavy heart.


 

They watched their churches get submerged, little by little.

And now this is their temporary Church-

New Church


 

The water did not leave the schools too. Brand New. Haven’t even seen a student yet. Maybe it will be seeing a school of fish, yes? –


Cut off from the world, their only choice of reaching civilization is on a bamboo raft and a wooden boat-

And wait for 2-4 hours to board a boat-


Amidst all these, the Mapithel Dam’s water has been rising above the ‘Danger’ level. This has caused many villagers to flee their homes-

danger level


As for the ending of the story, we will have to sit out this monsoon. We need to pray that this dam of 20 years has better infrastructure than the Sekmai Dam.

Getting the dam decommissioned is definitely not on top priority. Getting the basic amenities to the affected families is. We should address helping them with food, medicines, blankets, a proper tent to live in and water supply etc.

The irony of Mapithel Dam and making of India’s Lost Village is how one society regressed for the development of another.

Share if you care. 

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