Dimapur Declaration sets tone for people's right to natural resources

IMPHAL, May 18: Following the "North East People Convention on Water" held on 17-18 May 2013 at Dimapur, Nagaland, which was jointly organized by 26 indigenous peoples organizations from the region, the participants unanimously adopted the '"Dimapur Declaration" to protect inherent rights over water, land, forest and other resources based on customary and international laws, primarily as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Declaration on the Rights of the indigenous People 2007.

"The representatives of the 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 has resolved to affirm our right to use, manage and control all water bodies in India's NE, which is crucial for our agriculture, food, sustenance of our rich biodiversity, civilization and cultures etc," the declaration said.

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, the Declaration by the conglomerate of civil society organizations expressed its concern with the increasing number of mega dams and other unsustainable mega projects in the region which 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 and violated indigenous peoples human rights and fueled conflicts.

The declaration while asserting to stand together to protect water bodies and other natural resources in the region and to ensure perennial rivers have freshwater flow all-round the year has further called upon the Government of India and the Government of the People's Republic of China to recognize indigenous peoples' rights over their waters, land and resources and their self-determined development of their water bodies in the region as enshrined  in the UN

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007. It also stated that any decision making for intervention on Water bodies, especially Transboundary Rivers passing through India's NE such as Brahmaputra and Barak River System should be with due and rightful participation of indigenous peoples in the region.

The Dimapur Declaration also urged the Government of India to fully implement the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination on Racial Discrimination in 2007 to take the free prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples of NE India before construction of mega dams; to decommission all the dams which has caused to loss of livelihoods of the indigenous people such as the Ithai Barrage of the Loktak Multipurpose Project in Manipur, Dumbur Dam in Tripura etc.

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Courtesy:ISTV Imphal


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