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International Rivers Day Observed

IMPHAL, Mar 16: Along with raising the demand to let the Barak river flow freely, scrap the proposed Tipaimukh Dam project, recognize the rights of indigenous people over their land and resources and to ensure that all development policies and projects be pursued with prior and informed consent of the people, the International Rivers Day was observed at Bamgaijang village in Tamenglong district along the Barak rivers on March 14 and 15.

Observed under the joint aegis of Committee on Land and Natural Resources (COLNAR), Action Committee Against Tipaimukh Dam, Sinlung Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Organization, Citizens’ Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD), Centre for Organization  Research and Education (CORE), INTAC-Manipur, North East Dialogue Forum and Mapithel Dam Affected Villages’ Organization, the first day was marked by a public meeting on the reasons and purpose of observing the International Rivers day at Bamgaijang village. The second day of the observed was marked by exploration of heritage sites such as Barak water fall, Zeilat lake, etc and villages along Barak river which would be submerged and impacted by the proposed Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydro-electric Project. The public meeting on the first day was organized in association with Bamgaijang village authority and chaired by its chairman while chairman of Taijejang village authority Namthiujenang Pamei presented the welcome address.

In the key note address of the meeting, joint secretary of CCDD Jiten Yumnam highlighted the reason of organizing the International Rivers Day and said that rivers are increasingly targeted for destructive projects and human beings are neglecting the health of the rivers, thereby undermining the intrinsic role of rivers in sustaining the livelihood and survival of indigenous people. He also emphasis the need to ensure that the rivers flow free and to strengthen the role of all peoples depending on rivers to protect the health and vitality of rivers.

A Rongmei translation of the book, ‘Recommendations of the World Commission on Dams’, published by International Rivers Network (now International Rivers) was released by Dinri, deacon of Bamgaijang Baptist Church and the book was reviewed by Ragongning Gangmei at the in which, Namthonbuiyang Golmei and Ariu presented traditional folk songs speaking of inter-relationship of Rongmei people with Barak river for survival.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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