Imphal, June 7 (ANI): Growing extortion threats by local militants are affecting the tourism prospects of the popular Singda Dam.
Located about 16 kilometres west of Imphal and overlooking an artificial lake and the Imphal valley, the dam is a multi-purpose project for irrigation and water conservation and is also a scenic picnic spot near Imphal.
Employees of Singda Dam say they are compelled to lead a threat-filled life due to militants here.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland- Isak-Muivah (or NSCN-IM) militant group has demanded a yearly payment of 250,000 from the personnel manning the dam.
Unable to meet their demands, the staff members have deserted the dam site fearing dire consequences from the militants. As a result, the gates leading to Singda Dam have been closed since May 22, 2009.
With the staff literally went into hiding and unwilling to bow to militant outfits, the tourists face a lot of disappointment on arrival.
Thousands of tourists visit Singda Dam site. But due to dam's closure the arriving tourists are facing big disappointment as closed gates greet them.
"This is a very unfortunate for the people especially for those who have come for sightseeing as we the dam is closed. We are not able to see the place we were looking forward to," said Brajmohon Waikhom, a local visitor.
"We don't want the dam to be closed. It has been closed, as they are unable to meet the militants' monetary demands. Even our sales have gone down rapidly and has become really difficult for the public to even move around," said Ch. Sakhitombi Devi, local shopkeeper in Singda.
National Projects Construction Corporation (NPCC) has built the massive Singda Dam for the Irrigation and Flood Control Department of Manipur Government.
The irrigation project allows water conservation and its proper usage in Manipur valley. It is one of the main sources of drinking water as over 70 percent of residents in Imphal depend on the dam for their daily water needs.
Singda Dam also houses a health resort ideal for tourists. Frequented by picnickers, hitchhikers, tourists and health conscious enthusiasts, the threats posed by the militants will demoralize the personnel maintaining the dam and further affect the economy of the state to a great extent. (ANI)