Tamenglong June 21: People of Tamenglong have been suffering with the construction of railway tracks for the past 10 years. Now they are going to face another problem – oil exploration. To understand likely impact of oil exploration people gathered at Goinanglong (Oinamlong), Tamenglong district Wednesday. The agenda was “Stop oil exploration and drilling in Tamenglong.” Admin Gangmei, a villager said Asian Oils Field and Oil India Ltd did not come to explore oil but to take natural resources without the consent of the people. He said “without the consent of the people and village chief the company started bombarding at their paddy fields.”People are not against the exploration if there is benefit for Tamenglong. But details should be made known to the people, he added. Gunrei Kamei, a villager of Nungba further said, the survey came in 2011 but they decided not to give ‘no objection certificate’ to the oil company.
He said the companies are insisting for the no objection certificates despite people’s resistance to Jubilant Energy earlier. “During the construction of rail tracks false promises were made. So people of the area need to be more aware on pros and cons of the oil exploration. No one can take the resources of Tamenglong without the consent of the people,” Gunrei asserted.
Jiten Yumnam, secretary for Centre for Research and Advocacy Manipur, said oil companies did not give clear information on the impact.
The impact of blasts for exploration during the survey might have caused earthquake which hit Tamenglong on January 4, last year in which nine persons died and over 100 were injured, Jiten added. He said the blasts could pollute the environmental in the area. “People have started facing problems because of the survey, what could be the impact if the drilling starts”, Jiten asked. “Assam has reaped the benefits from hydrocarbons and we are hopeful about the same for Manipur, Sumit Mahajan project manager said last year. But no one have the concern about population explosion in Assam where many people were brought in the name of oil drilling job. This can happen in the state,” Jiten added. Though the Centre claims natural resources belong to the nation if the impact and benefit are not let known to the people then it is violating people’s rights. To save Manipur hill and valley should unite, he said. Phulendro Konsam, chairman of Committee on Human Rights said, people are not against development but will not accept it if it violates people’s rights. Oil exploration is meant for multi-national companies not for the people, he added. “If oil project is implemented more central forces will be deployed and people will reel under AFSPA,” he said. Singamlung Dangmei, president of Rongmei Naga Youth Organisation said the landslide in Kangpokpi and the sound in Tengnoupal district might be the impact of oil exploration. State government should make an alternative arrangement for the land affected people on oil exploration, he added.
Chairman of Keiphundai Village Authority explained how their villagers faced water scarcity due to survey blasts in the year 2012. He expressed apprehension that oil exploration will contaminate the water. The public meeting was also attended by Majabung Gangmei, spokesperson of Zeliangrong Baudi, Aram Pamei, co-convenor Peace Core Team, John Panmei, convenor of Committee on Protection of Natural Resources, Sanaton Laishram, Centre for Research and Advocacy Manipur. Villagers shouted slogans, “Stop oil exploration in Manipur”, “Our land belongs to the people”, “Go back Asian Oilfield, Go back Oil India Limited”.
Maklang public meet decries oil exploration
Meanwhile a public meeting was jointly organised by Maklang youth development club, Mepwak, village women coordinating committee (VWCOC) and Loyalum Apunba Meirapabi at Maklang bazar community hall today against oil exploration in Manipur. A release said ever since the Asian oilfield services limited bagged a Rs 143 crore contract from the oil india ltd in January for 2D seismic data, the private company commenced oil surveys in Jiribam, Tamenglong, and Imphal west districts in Manipur.
The speakers of the meeting strongly condemned the step taken up by the government of India and the Asian oilfield services ltd without the consent of the people of Manipur, it said. The meeting also strongly opposed highhandedness by the profit making companies and resolved to stop the oil explorations, not compromising our land and money and will start agitations if the oil exploration continues, added the release.
On May 17, villagers of Khaidem village expressed concern againts the oil survey company with the non-provision of information of the project, the absence of detailed impact assessment due to surveys and direct oil exploration, it recalled.
Villagers expressed through the media that the companies failed to give any prior notice to the village and also to take their consent, it said, adding moreover the Asian oilfield blasted multiple explosive devices during the survey without clear information on the impacts and safety and also by contaminating agricultural land.
On the same day a One day discussion on Oil Exploration was jointly organized by Forest, Natural Resources Management and Development Council (NRMDC Chandel), Anal Sinnu Ruwal Manipur (ASRM), Anal Naga Tangli Manipur (ANTM), Chakpi River Protection and Development (CRPD), People’s Development Organisation (Chandel PDO) and Farmers Development Society (FDS Chandel).
In the said discussion KL. Wellee Anal (General Secretary FDS), L. Kanlun Anal (President PDO), Bd. Betha Anal (Vice President CRPD), PS. Isrial Anal (General Secretary ANTM), NL. Jonhlung Anal (President ASRM) and PS. Ngamnung Anal (President NRMDC) were the presidium members.
PS. Ngamnung Anal (President NRMDC) shared his view on how the developmental projects like Dams, Oil Exploration, etc, will destroy the agricultural land which belongs to the indigenous people of Manipur. More than 85 thousands hectares of paddy field have been made submerged by the Loktak Hydro Power Project in the name of Development and Employment to the people, but after the commissioned of the Project not a single person whose land have been submerged by this project have achieved job in the project sectors. The people should be aware of the false truth being spread out by the outside companies whose job is just to earn profit by suppressing the indigenous people of our land. Therefore, people living in Chandel will support to stop the Exploration in Manipur.
Bd. Betha Anal (Vice President CRPD) highlighted that there is no proper drinking water facility, roads, hospitals, higher level schools, etc in Chandel District, in the name of constructing the same many companies have approached with a false promise to the people living in Chandel that there will be proper drinking water facility, Schools, Hospitals, Roads, Jobs etc, it could be learned during the proposed Chakpi Multipurpose Project.
Now again the Asian Oilfield Service Ltd has approached the Villagers of the Khaidem Village with a false promise of Assuring Job, Cheaper Fuel Price, Economy Growth in the state, etc, but people should not forget that the land belong to us and we have the rights over our land and not the Oil Companies, the companies should not violate the UN Declaration on Rights of the Indigenous People and must go back immediately from Manipur.
- Jonhlung Anal (President ASRM) shared that there are many helicopter and drone flying at night in the area of Chandel, the people fear that there is an Aerial Survey being carried out the Beel Industries trying to detect the minerals through some powerful ray as it could be observe by the people of Tamenglong and Jiribam. It is very confusing whether the government is here to protect its people or are they after the minerals which belongs to the people of Manipur.
There is a fear of polluting the rivers by the drilling processes of Oil and the people will be compelled to shift from their inhabited land in search of safer place. Therefore, the people of Manipur should stand together to protect our natural resources from being taken out by the companies and the government of India, and the resources must be control by the people not the companies.
L. Kanlun Anal (President PDO) and KL. Wellee Anal (General Secretary FDS) have also shared their views supporting the statements made by the above speakers and have opposed the steps taken up by the Oil Companies and the Government of India controlling the natural resources. They have highlighted that the Oil Acts which have been passed by the GOI is now in need of Amendment by complying all the international standards, norms and covenants, etc.
Resolution of the Meeting
1. The Oil Companies and the Government of India must learn to respect the rights of the Indigenous People.
2. The Oil Companies should immediately stop the false truth being spread around the innocent villagers
- To Stop the oil Exploration in Manipur permanently.
Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur
(The Imphal Free Press, 22 June 2017, By Thomas Ngangom