Objection to hearing on oil drilling

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IMPHAL, July 28: The Naga Women Union in a press statement has expressed a strong objection against the Manipur Pollution Control Board for calling public hearing regarding the draft EIA on exploratory drilling and allied activities at Jiribam on July 30, Purbung on August 8 and at Nungba on August 17 for obtaining environment clearance without consultation of the would be affected indigenous peoples and without providing basic documents such as detailed Project Reports, Contract Agreements and lack of transparency and accountability.

While citing the Chanpang-Tssro, Wokha district, Nagaland oil spill, the NWU statement said, “Petroleum Oil Exploration is risky and dangerous for the innocent people living in these areas of Tamenglong, Churachandpur Districts and Jiribam Sub-Division of Imphal East District”.

It said the world has witness enough oil exploration and drilling related accidents.

This petroleum exploration will affect livelihood – the health of the people, land, rivers, animals, mammals, flora and fauna and forest, one of the richest biodiversity hot-spot of the world, it said.

“We are the stewards of our land and natural resources which is God’s given heritage to our people living in this part of the world. We are the ones to protect and keep them for the future generations and not to give away to be destroyed forever”, it continued.

“Indo-Naga Peace Talk is underway and before solving the Naga Issues our land and natural resources should not be touched by any outsiders without free, prior and informed consent”.

Meanwhile, the United Naga Council in a separate press release has also expressed its objection to the oil exploration in the Tamenglong, Churachandpur and Jiribam sub-division.

The statement said, “The surreptitious activities of the Government of India and the Government of Manipur in licensing a multinational Company for oil exploration in Tamenglong, Churachandpur and Jiribam sub-division without the free prior and informed consent of the people is highly objectionable”.

“Innocent villagers of Tamenglong District, who have no technical knowledge of the far reaching impacts of oil drilling on the environment and habitation and the hazards of the activity are duped into signing agreement for seismic surveys by Alpha Geo Company”, it alleged.

It has also come to light that a leave and licence agreement has been signed by the Jubilant Offshore Drilling Company on perpetual use of 15 acres of land under Nungkhao (Luangkao) village in Tamenglong district for drilling purpose for a consideration of Rs 12 lakhs only, it further alleged.

“No environmental impact assessment on the activity has been carried out when it is obvious that oil spills during testing and drilling, accidents and bursting of pipelines will lead to severe contamination of water bodies and rivers”.

“Also no assessment of the impact of influx of immigrants and increase in militarization that would arise out of oil exploration in the area”, it further charged.

“The Hill Area Committee which is constitutionally instituted under 371 C of the constitution has also not been approached for concurrence and approval of the exploration activity”, it said.

“In view of the above we endorse the decision of the one day Convention on Petroleum Extraction held at Press Club, Imphal on the July 16, 2012 to oppose oil extraction and assure the committee on the protection of Natural Resources instituted therefrom of our support and solidarity in their noble mission”, the statement said.

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