One village's 'protection wall' a destruction for the other villages?

One village's 'protection wall' a destruction for the other villages?

By Ninglun Hanghal

ninglunhanghal

Continuous rain lashes down since past several days in most parts of Manipur. In Lamka and adjoining areas rainwater began to fill-up the otherwise dry rivers. All drainage water from vengs and colonies in the town fill with mud and waste began to roll down the rivers. One of the most important river the Khuga river , locally known as Tuitha that was filled with human, animal and technology waste started to make slow move and run downstream. Moreover the current of the now water filled Khuga river slowly pushes the banks as well.

Monsoon seems to set in early this year. This should ring an alarm. It calls for an urgent attention. As witnessed in recent years, flood is “naturally expected” again and very soon.

Particularly inhabitants along Khuga/ Tuitha river banks and its vicinity are now once again at the brink of facing flood and flood related disasters.

Last year in June a “protection wall” constructed at Zoumunnuam village, Bijang-Loubuk Churachandpur ( on the west bank of Khuga river downstream) was completed. The said project was at the cost of over 7 crore and undertaken by the North East Council (NEC). Reportedly the said completed project was also officially found to be “satisfactory”

Unfortunately this has a huge impact on its opposite bank- the Khuga/Tuitha eastern bank and its inhabitants.

In March last year the inhabitants of the eastern Khuga river under the banner of Eastern Khuga Flood Victims Committee had taken out a silent march in an attempt to draw attention to their grievance. Several representations and memorandum have also been submitted to concern district authorities.

While it was a general presumption that the eastern Khuga/Tuitha dwellers were “opposing” the said “protection wall at Zoumunnuam village” it may-be mentioned that, the representations was basically an appeal for construction of protection/retaining wall on their side too. A prayer for “equal protection” on both side of the Khuga/ Tuitha river.

Now a year later, as it stands there seems to be no action or re-action over the representations of the eastern Khuga inhabitants - of those who are dwelling opposite the “Zoumunnuam Protection Wall”. These villages on the eastern side of Khuga River downstream includes Nengthawng veng, Meitei Christian leikai, Nazareth veng, Kerith veng and Vungkhanthang veng.

Every year these villages were affected by recurring flood. Large part of residing lands and agricultural fields have also been submerged and washed away. Many families have fled from the villages as their residential and agriculture lands had been destroyed. The Evangelical Free Church of India (EFCI) was submerged and re-located for the third time within a span of 10 years.

Moreover due to the changes in river course many patta-lands that were surveyed earlier had been submerged. These lands have now come up as dry lands on the opposite river bank, that is Zoumunnuam village and are now occupied. Many of these lands have also fallen into the ongoing retaining wall construction.

The village approach road that was motor-able earlier have also narrowed down so much due to force of the water current , is now just a mere footpath.

There is fear and unease on the opposite side of the “protection wall”. There is sense of being discriminated and marginalized. A grave injustice as “protection” was provided to only the eastern bank dwellers, while the western bank is left to fend for themselves.

The said “Zoumunnuam protection wall” constructed only on one side of the Khuga river is mischievous and dubious. It is not surprising that this had created a ‘misunderstanding’ so much that in early February 2017 clashes broke out between villages on the two sides. This clashes, which was brushed up as a mere “misunderstanding” was kept under wrap and hushed up.

Beside feeling a sense of discrimination, injustice, for inhabitants dwelling on the opposite eastern side of the said “protection wall at Zoumunnuam” it pose a grave danger. Technically the “protection wall” will double up the force of the water current. This need no science or research! It is simple logic. One can ‘naturally’ understand and see for oneself the potential impact that would create if a “protection wall” is constructed on one side of a river bank while the opposite side is left “unprotected”.

Social - Environment impact apart which is obviously not considered in these particular project of anti-erosion scheme - “ protection wall at Zoumunnuam” the impact of this “protection” should be urgently considered. Such huge schemes for “protection” of a group of people’s lives should not become a ‘scheme for destruction' of another group of people's life and their livelihood.

Presently the dwellers of eastern Khuga river on the opposite of the “Zoumunnuam protection wall” are hopeful that their grievances would be heard, as they have been assured of so. That a “protection wall” too will come up on their side to protect them from natural diasaster.

But season comes and season goes. Now monsoon is already on its way. Will these village and its inhabitants, residing opposite Zoumunnuam protection wall, be protected in time before nature once again lashes its fury?