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Public Hearing On Loktak Downstream Project, Thangal Villagers Gives The Thumbs Up Signal

IMPHAL, Jun 8: Villagers of Thangal in Tamenglong district have declared unanimous support to the Loktak Downstream Hydro-electric Project and called upon authorities concerned for expeditious completion of the project.

The villagers stamped their approval on the project at a State Government initiated public hearing con- ducted yesterday at Than-gal village, which is about 85 kilometers from the State capital via Bishnupur district.

The public hearing held at the newly built helipad was conducted by Tamenglong district Deputy Commissioner/District Magistrate K Panmei, who is also the Chairman of the Public Hearing.

Member Secretary of Manipur Pollution Control Board (MPCB), the public hearing organizer, K Jagdiswar was the convener.

As panel members, Loktak Downstream Hydro-electric Corporation Limited Chief Engineer PP Singh Wilkh, State Power Department Superintending Engineer (Power) N Dwijen, Divisional Forest Officer (Western Forest Division/Tamenglong) Huri Golmei and MPCB’s SEE N Minaketan also attended the session.

Delivering the welcome address, K Panmei conveyed that the Project is a joint venture of Government of Manipur and National Hydro-electric Power Corporation with both parties signing a deal on September 26, 2008.

He also confided to the locals that the Public Hearing is a platform to not only allays apprehension on the negative impact of the Project but also an opportunity for the public to express their views without any inhibition.

As mediator of the event, K Jagdiswor informed that the Thangal village public hearing was held as per notification issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest on September 14, 2006.

Apart from Project-related reports such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP) in both the state dailies and a national paper the same could be accessed on the website, the program convener informed.

The EIA and EMP reports were elaborated by NHPC’s Chief Environment Engineer Dr Sahid through power point projection during which it was pointed out that construction of a 28-metre high barrage, as a part of the Project, over the Leimatak River to generate a 66-megawatt power will not result in displacement of human settlement areas. Technical aspect of barrage as well as power-house was also high- lighted by Dr Sahid, who briefed the gathering that reports on the Project were based after minute survey by experts of Delhi University’s Centre for Inter-disciplinary Studies of Mountain and Hill Environment.

On the other hand, the EMP report presents a detailed account on rehabilitation and compensation packages in case the Project causes negative impact on health and hygiene, education or snaps road connectivity.

While questions posed by the villagers were clarified by the panel members during an interaction session, one T Pamei suggested that effected villagers be considered favorably for contract and transportation works besides pointing out that the land compensation amount worked out by the Government is inappropriate. While welcoming the Project, he also cautioned that in the name of development the locals should not be exploited.

Endorsing the Project at the occasion, former MLA Jangamlung Panmei strongly suggested that there should be no leniency on the part of Project implementing agency that could imperil the people such as suffering of the people affected by the Loktak Project. He also posed as to whether the deal signed between the Govt of Manipur and NHPC include provision for providing power to the effected villagers at a cheaper rate.

Besides drawing the attention of the panel members as to whether seismological study was carried out at the project site, one G Ningthoungai of Thangal village also proposed that a similar session be held at Tousang village.

As a representative of Zeliangrong Women’s Union, Martha Panmei pointed out that employment opportunities should also be extended to womenfolk of effected villages and urged all concerned to ensure that the Project benefits the people.

Representatives of JAC on Construction of Loktak Downstream Project, Zeliangrong Students’ Union (Manipur), and villages such as Tousang, Soubunglong, Chakanglong etc handed over a joint memorandum to the Public Hearing Chairman K Panmei.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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