CM waters down Dam stand
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, December 28: Diluting the Government's stand on the construction of the controversial Tipaimukh Dam, Chief Minister O Ibobi today pronounced that if the liabilities outweigh the benefits, then the Dam may be scrapped.

The Chief Minister announced this during a media conference today despite the fact that the foundation stone of the Dam was laid on December 16 this year by Union Power Minister Shushil Kumar Shinde in the presence of other Union Ministers.

Addressing the newsmen, Ibobi explained that the Ministry of Forest and Environment is yet to issue the No Objection Certificate for the construction work to go ahead.

Since the clearance from the Forest and Environment Ministry will take time, construction work will not start immediately.

Acknowledging the strong opposition put up by some organisations, the Chief Minister said that there is still time to study the impact the project would have on the people and the State.

If there is any apprehension that losses will outweigh the gains, then the points can be discussed thoroughly, said the Chief Minister and added that if the people stand to lose more than they gain, the project will be scrapped.

On the growing demand to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from the State, especially in the aftermath of the custodial killing of Th Manorama, the Chief Minister said that despite opposition from the Centre including the Prime Minister the Disturbed Area tag was removed from the Imphal Municipality areas.

Recalling the statement of the Prime Minister that certain clauses of the AFSPA would be amended, following the recommendations of the Jeevan Reddy Committee, the Chief Minister said that the stand of the State Government has been to repeal the Act from the entire State of Manipur.

"I will be going to Delhi tomorrow and will urge the Prime Minister to repeal the Act," added Ibobi.

Taking a dig at the MPP, the Chief Minister said that the Congress led SPF Government has been able to remove the Disturbed Area tag from the Municipal areas of Imphal but the MPP is today claiming that it will repeal the Act from the entire State if voted to Power.

"Let the people discuss and decide what are the differences and then act accordingly," he proclaimed.

Admitting that the demand to upgrade Jiribam to a full fledged revenue district is justified, the Chief Minister pointed out though the sub-division is under Imphal East district, it is situated too far away.

Moreover there is also the problem of communication and other inconveniences which make the demand all that more right, he added.

However since the Sadar Hills issue is yet to be resolved, there has been a delay in upgrading Jiribam to a district, explained the Chief Minister and added that there is the need to upgrade both to district statuses at the same time.

Commenting on the kidnapping of two school kids at Senapati on December 14, the Chief Minister said that Power Minister MLA Francis Ngajokpa has personally met the family members of the children.

Fearing safety of the children, the Chief Minister said family members turned down offer of the Government to launch an all out operation to track down the kidnappers.

The Government has not received any official intimation that two suspects are in the custody of the NSCN (IM), he informed.

On significant decisions the Government has adopted recently, the Chief Minister mentioned extension of retirement age of Government employees from 58 to 59 years, 4 pc reservation for Meitei Pangals and rectifying the pay anomalies of the 5th Pay Commission.

The Chief Minister also went on the offensive against the MPP and accused the regional party of adopting an anti-people stand to garner votes for the upcoming election.

The MPP has also been playing the communal card, he charged and added that such strategy will strain the cordial relationship between different communities.

Scoffing at the announcement of the MPP that only local people will be considered for top posts like Chief Secretary and DGP, the Chief Minister said such outlandish statements should not fool the public.

There is no reason why a qualified officer who fulfils the criteria to occupy the top posts should not be given the such jobs because he/she is not from Manipur, asserted the Chief Minister.

Advocating the interest of only one community is unethical and wrong, said the Chief Minister and added that interest of the minorities too should be given importance.