Why Manipur is flooded
State's worst flood in recent history raises doubts over the role of dams
PEOPLE LIVING downstream of a mega dam inThoubal district of Manipur could not contain their anxiety. They had heard of reports of leakages. On July 25, residents of six villages on the border of Bishnupur and Thoubal districts reached the office of Mapithel dam.“We went to get an opinion from the engineers so that we could prepare for any eventuality,” says Tentenbam, a resident of Tumunkhong village and spokesperson for theThoubal Dam Downstream Affected People.“We were told that if we see muddy water we should evacuate immediately, but if clear water flows in the Thoubal river,we should stay.”By the next evening,about 10,000 people from these villages started moving to higher grounds. By August 3, they had set up temporary shelters at T C Pokpi, Meitei Nongdam and other areas in the foothills. Some put up in trucks and tractors along a road.“Leakage was visible and soon we saw muddy water coming out of the dam,”says Tentenbam.
Thounaojam Shyamkumar, member of Legislative Assembly (mla) from Andro,where the dam is being built,says when he went to check the situation officials told him that the dam is leaking. State irrigation and flood control department, however, says the dam is safe. Its executive engineer Irom Mohindro told Down To Earth that they are releasing 20 cubic metres of water—the volume of a medium-size Sintex tank—per second and “fixing some of the leakages reported”. On August 1,the water level was 876 m,nearly 2 m above the spillways.
As rains intensified in the first week of August,people on either side of the dam faced floods. Areas upstream have been submerging since March because of the dam,and areas downstream due to rainfall and release of water. The authorities say this could be the worst flood in 200 years. About 60,000 hectares (ha) were inundated and 500,000 people displaced by August 3,according to an estimate by the state revenue department.Most of the paddy crop has been destroyed.The worst affected are the low-lying Thoubal,Bishnupur and Imphal districts,which lie in the flood plain drained by small rivers that flow into Myanmar.The flood’s intensity was so severe that three big bridges were destroyed.
Upstream, the dam has submerged 1,200 ha of land, including
Flood displaced about 500,000 people in Manipur by August 3