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Imphal Airport Expansion, Manipur, India


The Prime Minister of India announced special package for the North East including Manipur. With the economic assistance from the Central government, the state Government of Manipur planned to expand its airport, that will become the first international airport of the North East. With India looking at Myanmar and at expanding trade relations with South East Asia, Manipur's airport gains much more strategic relevance.

Accordingly, the government notified to acquire about 512 acres of land for modernization and expansion of the runway at Imphal's Tulihal airport to international standards. About 250 families are solely dependent on the acquired agricultural land and its products. The land owners formed a Joint Action Committee to lead the protest. Fearing their loss of shelter and livelihood, on April, 2008, they started their agitation. The committee demanded that cultivable land is already very scarce in the state. According to them the transition of agricultural land to infrastructure development all over the state will exacerbate the food crisis. Apart from the that, the most important concern at the micro level in Manipur is scarcity of cultivable land. This will ultimately lead to increasing poverty levels and cause loss of livelihoods [1]. reports that "Over the years since 1960, approximately 600 acres of arable land have been acquired already for the expansion of Tulihal airport. "Yet, while the land remains unutilised or under the occupation of security forces inside the airport premises, those uprooted from their age-old familial dwellings are facing threats to their survival. The compensation was a mere four acres to a family," says K Lanngamba, president of United Committee Manipur (UCM)"[1].

The pick of the protest was reached in 2008, when Police used forces and during a protest march in August 2008, they fired teargas shells and exploded bombs to clear road blockades put up by villagers [2].

The government had assured the affected families of suitable compensation. Also, the government has estimated that this expansion plan will generate employment in tourism industry. Although the tourism has huge potential in Manipur, JAC is unconvinced with the airport expansion plan. JAC said that tourism could never compensate the reduction in production bases. They demanded that policymakers need to look at a more inclusive development model for the state. They cited the example of countries like Nepal, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. These countries are attracting tourists despite their small airports and short single runways [1].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Imphal Airport Expansion, Manipur, India
State or province:Manipur
Location of conflict:Tulihal; Imphal
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Land
Tourism services

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Imphal International Airport located in Imphal the Capital of Manipur, the North Eastern Indian State. The airport is about 8 Kms from Imphal. The historic Tulihal Airport, first established as an Allied Air Force base during World War II in Imphal.

The state government had proposed to acquire about 466.67 acres of land around the airport for the expansion. The government also proposed to compensate the residents of the five villages to be affected [2, 3]. Official sources said the government had decided to acquire 690 acres of land to expand facilities in the airport including night landing [5].

Project area:207
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:10,000
Start of the conflict:2008
Relevant government actors:Government of Manipur
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Joint Action Committee (JAC) against the Acquisition of Land for Airport Expansion

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Occupation of buildings/public spaces


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Noise pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Specific impacts on women


Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Development of alternatives:Joint Action Committee (JAC) against the Acquisition of Land for Airport Expansion has organized state-level seminar to gain support from people of various corners against the airport expansion plan [1].
Committee on Airport Expansion, and demanded that the government's plan to acquire land for the airport's expansion be first made public before any further action on the project [5].
The committee arranged an 'open dialogue' on the issue on October 17, 2008. In that meeting many prominent personalities of Manipur said that instead of going in for expansion, the existing facilities could be improved and more facilities added [5].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The northeastern state Manipur is mainly hilly region and cultivable land comprise only about 10 percent of the state's area. The capital Manipur is already overcrowded and rapidly expanding. So, transforming farmland into real estate in the name of development is opposed by many. The farmers, depends on the yields of their fertile soil by their products. With this their livelihoods are secure. They do not want to give up their land for the sake of an airport [1].
According to JAC although the number of displaced in not much (about 250-odd families, or 10,000 people), in the expansion plan, in real terms, the human cost would be monumental, ranging from loss of ancestral property and secure livelihoods to ecological imbalance and impoverishment [1].
About 80 percent of state’s population depends on Agriculture and allied activities like animal husbandry, horticulture, forestry and fishery. The livelihood of these people is at stake with the latest development plan of the state government. Apart from the macro issue of marginalization of agriculture at a time when a global food crisis looms large, the most important concern at the micro level in Manipur is scarcity of cultivable land. [1]
There are also many previous expansions in 1950, 1960, 1970 and 1991. During that plans the government had acquired cultivable lands, ponds and fishing farms displacing many people without proper rehabilitations [5].

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

The Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Allotment of Land) Rules, 1962

The Land Acquisition Act, 1894

[3]Airport Authority of India

[2] Clash over airport land in Manipur

[4] Plans for International Airport Evicts Local Families

Locals protest airport expansion

[5] Locals opposing Manipur airport expansion plan

Airport Expansion in North-East India Forcibly Evicts 17 Families

[1] Manipur resists land alienation

Developmental challenges : Airport & University expansion

Imphal Airport expansion hits green hurdle

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

IndiaUnheard:Voices of Dissent in Manipur Challenge the Govt.

Plans for International Airport Evicts Local Families-IndiaUnheard

Forced Eviction Destroys 17 Manipuri Families-IndiaUnheard

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update18/08/2019



Women from Malom, Manipur staged Protest against Airport Expansion Plan

Picture Courtesy :: Jinendra Maibam; Source :