Joint venture of Sinlung Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Organisation (SIPHRO) and Intercultural Resources (ICR) and Human Resource Development Foundation (HRDF)
Duration: May 8, 2009 to August 20, 2009.
Places Covered: Assam, Manipur and Mizoram
Social audit on Tipaimukh dam was jointly conducted by five (5) members of Sinlung Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Organisation (SIPHRO) and representatives from Intercultural Resources, Delhi and Human Resource Development Foundation (HRDF). This is the first pioneering work that thoroughly studied the possible adverse impact the Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydro-Electric Project would have on the sensitive and vulnerable indigenous peoples as well as on their social, cultural, economic, political, demographic and environment prospect in three States. Besides the social audit, SIPHRO, ICR and HRDFspent over two months in Assam, Manipur and Mizoram, following river Tuiruong/Barak and engaged with the threatened people in the process of deriving an informed consent. With that pursuit, SIPHRO, ICR and HRDF conducted public meeting, public hearing, discussion, debate, seminar, press conference, and photo exhibitions in different villages, towns and districts in the three States. These events were thoroughly reported and covered by various print as well as visual media wherever event site is accessible.
In the course of the project, SIPHRO, ICR and HRDF activated and involved diverse civil society groups, village authorities, media, Church-based NGOs, community based organizations and leaders in the process of negotiating and understanding the real interest of the Tipaimukh Multipurpose HEP and what it means for the diverse communities who were directly and indirectly dependent on the river for sustaining their livelihood system. The involved people acknowledged that the SIPHRO, ICR and HRDF initiated programme was the first ever platform where they get to understand the “developmental interest” hidden behind the leviathan project. They also acknowledged that it was the first time that they got to evolve their consent, which will help them to define their stand.
SIPHRO, ICR and HRDF, after the course of the project, arrived at the following findings:
1. The indigenous peoples who will be directly and indirectly affected by the Tipaimukh Multipurpose HEP were already left out and marginalized by the project. As a result, they did not know anything about the possible adverse impact the project would have on them.
2. The democratic process for delivering “free, prior and informed consent” was totally absent. Moreover, there is no “active, free and meaningful” participation from the public.
3. Militarisation efforts, particularly by the Government of Manipur, is gaining upper-hand in the name of “development”.
4. The indigenous river peoples in Assam, Manipur and Assam belongs to the most deprived groups, who are still untouched by welfare, development, infrastructure and education.
5. The two public hearings that were held in Darlawn (Mizoram) and Sipuikawn (Manipur) were restrictive and the targeted people did not get to speak/express anything during the so-called hearing. The few public hearings were, therefore, flawed. They were merely “ceremonial contacts”.
6. There is no identification of the people who would be affected by the project.
7. There is no recognition of the survival and cultural uniqueness of the indigenous peoples who along with their land and resources will be affected.
8. Monetary compensation was employed by the dam builders to win the consent and approval of the indigenous peoples in the pursuit of building the dam.
9. There is a strong politician-bureaucrat nexus that is working towards securing monetary compensation in the name of the indigenous peoples.
10. There is no “culturally appropriate development plan based on full consideration of the options preferred by the indigenous peoples”.
11. Nothing about the proposed project is transparent or made accessible for the public.
12. The indigenous communities are not aware of any clear pre-conditions for the Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydro Electric Project’s approval.
13. The project is absent of any social assessment process. Therefore, the proposed Tipaimukh Multipurpose HEP is an imposed and undemocratic project.
14. There is no assessment of the legal status of the indigenous peoples as reflected in the Country’s constitution and legislation.
15. The adverse social impact of the Tipaimukh Multipurpose HEP, whether short term or cumulative, have been seriously under-estimated.
Besides, the above findings, there are many other findings that will be reflected in detail in the final report.