CHRONICLE BUREAU IMPHAL, 11th May:
Civil society organisations and student bodies of Tamenglong area including Zeliangrong Students’ Union Manipur (ZSUM), Inriangluang Chabuan Phuam (ICP), Tousem Area Students’ Organisation (TASO), Society for Enhancing Tamenglong (SET) and The Forerunner have submitted a joint memorandum to Commerce & Industry minister Th Biswajit on Thursday demanding the government to halt the oil exploration works.
In case of failure the government would be held responsible for any eventualities, the joint petition warned.
In another development, representatives of 2D Seismic Survey Team of Oil India Limited conducted an awareness programme on Friday at the conference hall of Deputy Commissioner, Tamenglong district which was attended by chairmen and secretaries of Muktokhal, Oinamlong, Kaimai, Maokot, Changjal, Leikot and Longpi village.
The agenda of the meeting included deliberation on matters pertaining to the 2D Seismic data exploration and survey by the Oil India Company, informed a statement issued by additional DC Tamenglong, L Kiran Kumar.
Significantly, the joint petition of Tamenglong-based organisations reminded minister Biswajit about objection to oil exploration and drilling efforts in Manipur by Jubiliant Energy Private Limited and other oil companies since 2011.
At present, Oil India Limited Company and Government of India are trying to explore and drill oil in Tamenglong and other parts of Manipur. And the efforts of the oil company to create awareness is just a part of the continued attempt to drill and explore oil. It would lead to confusion and division among the different communities.
The main contention of the indigenous people to stop oil exploration is the non-recognition of their rights over their land and resources. As such, the oil company and the Union government should understand that the land on which they are trying to explore oil and gas belonged to the indigenous people, the petition said.
Making it clear that the indigenous people of the affected area strongly condemn any form of oil exploration and drilling on their land, the organisations demanded the Union government and oil company to cease work immediately in the larger interest of the indigenous communities.
Meanwhile, Youths Action Committee for Protection of Indigenous People (YACPIP) also submitted a memorandum addressed to minister Th Biswajit on Friday urging him to take up necessary steps for halting the oil exploration works in the state.
Oil India Limited has started the 2D seismic data collection in Manipur without obtaining the Environment Clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change as per the information received from the said Ministry’s Regional office at Shillong and for obtaining the Environment Clearance the ultimate responsibility is the state government, the memo mentioned.
The liability for failure in obtaining the Environment Clearance will fall upon the Manipur government, cautioned YACPIP president L Gulshan in the petition.
YACPIP learnt from various sources that to seek the ‘Free Prior and Informed Consent’ of the indigenous people is mandatory to implement any developmental projects as Indigenous people are dominantly inhabited in the state. However, to seek the ‘Free Prior Informed Consent’ of the indigenous people was not taken in any developmental projects in Manipur which amounts to violation of Rights of the indigenous people as per the United Nation Rights of the Indigenous People, 2007.
Further, Gulshan said that the committee received information that 20-25 mine bombs blasted beneath the ground for Oil exploration work in Jiribam had no permission from the Directorate General of Mines Safety.
Stating that such action is a clear violation of law of the land, the committee condemned alleged high handedness of the Oil India Limited and accused the state government for allowing the same.
The committee appealed to the state government and union government not to forget that the government is of the people, by the people and for the people and thus, should act in accordance to the wish of the people.
YACPIP also demanded that the state, union government and Oil India Limited stop all form of oil exploration and extraction of natural resources from the indigenous people’s land immediately in the best interest of the people.