INDIA: Massive displacement and loss of livelihood in wake of Mapithel Dam construction

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to forward an appeal from the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, regarding the displacement and injustice faced by villagers affected by the Mapithel Dam construction.

For more information, please contact:

Jiten Yumnam
Secretary, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur
Sega Road, Hodam Leirak Imphal Manipur 795001

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeals Desk 
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) 


Name of the victims: Tangkhul Naga, Kuki and Meitei of Manipur

Name of alleged perpetrators: Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Government of Manipur

Incident: Displacement and survival threats of indigenous peoples in Manipur due to forceful moves to Commission Mapithel dam by the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Government of Manipur. 

Source of information: Mapithel Dam Affected Villages Organization, JAC for Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected Peoples, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, Human Rights Initiative

Event description

The Irrigation and Flood Control Department (IFCD), Government of Manipur commenced blocking the Thoubal River and filling up of the Mapithel Dam Reservoir from January 2015 onwards in a forceful attempt to commission the Mapithel dam of the Thoubal Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project. The fil[I]ing up of Mapithel dam reservoir already submerged an extensive portion of the agriculture land, grazing ground, forest areas of villages of Chadong, Lamlai Khunnou, Riha and several other villages along Mapithel Valley and Hill range.

The filling of the dam reservoir without addressing the plights of affected communities and in an absence of holistic impact assessment of the Mapithel dam has already led to mental harassment and insecurity over the livelihood and survival of affected communities belonging to the Tangkhul Naga and Kuki people, who already [lost] their agriculture land and survival sources. Chadong village is one of the most affected as more than 100 homes were already submerged by the rising waters. The Churches and Schools of Chadong village were already submerged. 

Villagers will lose their livelihood as their agriculture land, forest areas, grazing grounds were submerged by the rising Mapithel Dam waters. The Mapithel dam will have serious economic, social and cultural impacts on indigenous peoples along Mapithel Valley and along the Thoubal River.

The blocking of Thoubal River for filling up of Mapithel dam also led to enormous hardship and harassment to villagers in Downstream areas of the dam, such as in Tumukhong, Itham, Moirangpurel villages and further down in Thoubal District. The villagers of immediate downstream villages, belonging to the Meitei people, are worried of dam break as the IFCD commenced filling up dam reservoirs without completing the dam construction and in violation of applicable processes.

The water leaks that appeared in [the] freshly filled portion of the dam compelled villagers of Tumukhong, Itham and Moirang Purel to abandon their homes and seek refuge in higher grounds. Nearly 400 people including women, children and aged sought refuge in relief camps in higher grounds near Tumukhong Village. The Mapithel dam construction is still fraught with absence of downstream impact assessment and preparation of any alternative livelihood. The rehabilitation and resettlement of downstream affected communities is completed ignored.

The villagers in both upstream and downstream can no longer fish and collect sand stone brought down by the Thoubal River. The Mapithel dam site is located in high seismic area and villagers in downstream areas are worried of dam break. The affected villagers in both upstream and downstream areas strongly opposed the forceful filling up of Mapithel dam reservoir as a clear instance of undemocratic development.

The ongoing filling up of the Mapithel dam reservoir is accompanied with full scale deployment of security forces of Government of India while subduing all affected peoples’ call and resistance against the blocking of the Thoubal River.

In clear procedural violations, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Government of India accorded final Stage II Forest Clearance for Mapithel Dam only on 31 December 2013 after more than thirty years of project approval in 1980 without conducting any site visits into affected areas. The ongoing effort to finalize Mapithel dam construction is a clear violation of India’s own forest laws and also despite the fact that the National Green Tribunal is still considering the violation of Forest Rights under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and the Forest Rights Act, 2006. The ongoing move to complete Mapithel dam construction is amidst controversial and manipulative rehabilitation and resettlement process that has caused confusion, division and violation of affected indigenous communities’ rights.

The Mapithel dam today represents a clear symbol of development injustice in Manipur. The IFCD and other corporate bodies, such as Progressive Construction Limited, involved in violations of indigenous peoples’ rights in the dam construction, continue to remain without any justice delivery.

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is preparing to finance a water supply scheme for Imphal Town from the Mapithel dam. JICA’s support will only facilitate more inconveniences, harassment and human rights violations on communities affected by Mapithel dam. The plight of the affected communities continues to remain uncertain as the project authorities continue to fill the Dam Reservoir with militarization of their land and suppression of their democratic rights.


The Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization, the JAC for Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected People, Human rights Initiative and the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur would like to urge upon the Government of India and the Government of Manipur to:

  1. Stop blocking the Thoubal River and filling up of the Mapithel Dam reservoir
  2. To stop Mapithel dam construction and Commissioning till all rehabilitation and resettlement process acceptable to affected communities with their free, prior and informed consent.
  3. Resume the Expert Review Committee set up in the year 2008 by Government of Manipur Conduct Downstream Impact Assessment.
  4. To urge the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) not to finance the Integrated Water Supply Scheme, to draw water from Mapithel dam for Imphal Town.
  5. All militarization process that support Mapithel dam construction should be halted immediately.
  6. Repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958
  7. Stop all forms of involuntary displacement of indigenous peoples affected by Mapithel Dam in Manipur as per UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples Rights, 2007
  8. End all forms of Development Injustice in Manipur

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (