INDIA/CHINA/BANGLADESH: Dimapur declaration on water and indigenous communities’ rights

We, the representatives of the indigenous people’s organizations of India’s North East concerned over the issue of water and adverse impacts of mega development processes, such as mega dam constructions, mining in the region, coming together on 17 – 18 May 2013 at Dimapur, Nagaland unanimously resolved to:

Affirm that water is life and inherent source of our physical, spiritual, cultural, economic and political survival.  Further affirm our right to use, manage and control all water bodies and its sources in India’s NE, Rivers, Wetlands, groundwater, glaciers, forests etc, which is crucial sustaining our agriculture, food, rich biodiversity, cultures and identity as peoples.

Concerned with the aggressive development interventions on water bodies in our region, such as the construction of series of mega dams over Brahmaputra River by the Governments of India and China, with minimal consideration of the rights and  relation of  indigenous peoples  to these rivers  and without their participation and free, prior and informed consent.

Expresses our concern with the increasing number of mega dams and other unsustainable mega projects in the region, which has destroyed our forest, depriving key water sources. The Loktak Project in Manipur, Doyang Project in Nagaland, Dumbur Dam Project in Tripura, Pagladia Project in Assam, Ranganadi Project in Arunachal has destroyed peoples’ lives, livelihood sources, ecosystems, violated indigenous peoples human rights, and fuelled conflicts.

Expresses our concern with the increasing pollution and contamination of our water bodies by mining, industries and oil exploration activities etc., in the region pursued in utter disrespect of indigenous peoples rights over their ancestral domains.

Concerned with the increasing intrusion of international financial institutions in directing policies and projects on the use and management of waters in our region, which only led to increasing privatization and corporatization of our water bodies. The proposition in Indian National Action Plan on Climate Change and National Water Mission for developing “new regulatory structures” will intensify privatization of our water resources.

Recall the provisions of the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, 2007, which outlined indigenous peoples’ inherent self-determined right to development in their land and territories and further their inalienable rights over the use of their land and resources;

Recall the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 5 May 2007 at the construction of large dams in India’s North East, which specifically urged the Government of India (GOI) to seek free prior informed consent of the indigenous peoples in all mega dams’ construction in the region.

Cognizant of the fact that “development” in the region is planned and implemented with utter disregard of our peoples’ inalienable rights; but rather imposed on the basis of geo-political and economic interest of the Govt. of India, driven by the interest of the dominant communities and corporate entities and articulated in the rhetoric of ‘national interest’;

We, the people of North East, while asserting ourselves to stand together to protect our water bodies and other natural resources in the region and to ensure perennial rivers have freshwater flow all-round the year, solemnly calls upon:

The Government of India and Government of the People’s Republic of China to:

1. Recognize indigenous peoples’ rights over their waters, land and resources and their self-determined development of their water bodies in India’s NE region as enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007;

2. Any decision making for intervention on Water bodies, especially Trans-boundary Rivers passing through India’s NE such as Brahmaputra and Barak River System should be with due recognition of the rights, rightful participation and free, prior and informed consent of all indigenous peoples in the region;

3. Establish an Independent International Commission on Water and develop a management mechanism to share among China/Tibet, India/North Eastern states of India and Bangladesh by respecting the right of the Indigenous people in the North East region;

4. Implement the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams, 2000 in all decision making processes on mega dams’ construction over Brahmaputra (Tsangpo) River;

We also urge the Government of India to:

1. Implement the recommendations of the UN Committee on Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination in 2007 to stop construction of mega dams in the territories of the indigenous people like the proposed Tipaimukh dam Project, Mapithel Dam, Chakpi Dam, Loktak Downstream Project in Manipur, Lower Siang Hydroelectric Project, Dibang Hydroelectric Project, Lower Demwe, Kameng Hydroelectric Project in Arunachal Pradesh, Teesta III Hydroelectric Project, Teesta IV Hydroelectric Project, Tashiding Hydroelectric Project, Panang Hydroelectric Project etc in Sikkim and mega dams in Meghalaya, Mizoram etc.;

2. Take the free prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples of NE India before construction of mega dams;

3. Declare all the Rivers and tributaries in each state of the North East Region as NO GO ZONES, where no dams/ barrages/ hydropower projects are allowed;

4. Decommission all the dams which caused to loss of livelihoods of the indigenous people and could not meet the envisage promise made by the authority, such as the Ithai Barrage of the Loktak Multipurpose Project in Manipur, Dumbur Dam in Tripura etc.;

5. Stop pollution and contamination of water bodies in India’s NE by mining, oil exploration and drilling etc.;

6. Repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 and stop all militarization processes associated with development processes in India’s North East;

7. Protect the human rights of environmentalists, human rights defenders, river activists campaigning for just and sustainable development in the region;

We urge the Government of CHINA:

1. To recognize the reality that indigenous peoples of India’s North East depends on Brahmaputra (Tsangpo River) and its tributaries for their survival;

2. That any planned construction of mega dams in Tsangpo River should fully respect indigenous peoples rights to free, prior and informed consent as specifically outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007;

3. To consider the downstream and other environmental, socio economic impacts of mega dams in Tsangpo River and to implement the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams, 2000 in all proposed mega dams construction in the River;

We urge the Government of BANGLADESH:

1. To take a proactive role for a collective and consensual decision making processes for all stakeholders on all Trans-boundary rivers, primarily with the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples depending on such rivers for their survival and their right in decision making processes;

2. To fully be conscious of the impacts of arbitrary interventions in Rivers in upper riparian countries and to desist from compromises for political or economic gains;

We call upon International Financial Institutions and Corporate bodies

1. IFI’s and corporate bodies should desist from financing and taking up water related projects in India’s NE, such as mega dams that would undermine indigenous peoples inherent rights over their waters and threatens environment integrity of the region.

2. To fully implement all the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in all policy and project support and initiative in North East India.


North East Dialogue Forum, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, Committee on Natural Resources Protection in Manipur, Borok People’s Human Rights Organization People Action for Development NH-53, Village Women Coordinating Committee, People Action for Development (Tiddim), United Community Development Platform, Social Action Committee, Peoples Platform Secretariat, Manipur, Resource Upliftment Centre for Human Interest, Social Upliftment Centre, Hewej Gono Sanghahan, Assam, Jan Jagri Nari Manch, Uttar Dharamtul Samaj Kalyan, Gono Sangram Samiti, Assam, Milan Jyoti Nari Manch, , North East Youth Foundation, Assam, Sannilita Nari Adhikar Suraksha Manch, Kishak Adkhikar Suraksha Samiti, Sunuwal Kachari Student Union, Senj Satirtha, Assam, Committee on People and Environment, Assam, Rural Volunteers Welfare Society, Arunachal Pradeh, People’s Movement for Brahmaputra Subansiri Valley, Young Club, Dimapur, Youth Association of Nagaland, Nzan Welfare Society, Nagaland

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Jiten Yumnam

Secretary, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur

Keisampat Leimajam Leikai Imphal Manipur NE India 795001


Ph: + 91 9774328712

Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : AHRC-FST-023-2013
Countries : Bangladesh, China, India,
Issues : Environmental protection, Human rights defenders, Judicial system, Right to food,