Protests force authority to suspend Nungba public hearing

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IMPHAL, August 18: The proposed August 17 public hearing on oil exploration organized by the Manipur Pollution Control Board at the Nungba Town Community hall had to be postponed after locals and students disrupted the venue just as the hearing was about to start.

Even as the organizers of the public were gearing up to start the public hearing on August 17, the locals and students who had arrived at the venue took out their banners saying, “Against the exploration and drilling of oil wells in the area”.

Owing to the public eruption, the Deputy Commissioner, Tamenglong, C Arthur W announced that the public hearing has been postponed till further notification.

Meanwhile, the protestors also tried to block the way of the DC on his return from the community hall. Many raised slogans like “Go back Jubilant”, “We love our land”, “Don’t sell our land” etc.

Unable to get away from the scene, the DC came out of his vehicle after about an hour later and tried to pacify the crowd, but the crowd remained adamant on their demand for cancellation of the public hearing instead of just postponing it.

The DC later on had to give in to the demands of the crowd and give in writing his assurance to cancel the public hearing.

Meanwhile, Zeliangrong Students’ Union, AMN president Pamei Tinleilung announced the DC’s written assurance about cancelling the oil exploration.

Former Zeliangrong Students’ Union secretary while briefing media persons at the venue said the people will never allow the oil explorations and drilling of wells in the state and if the Jubilant Oil and Gas Pvt ltd continue with the drilling and exploration, than the people will come out stronger.

He added this will only prove that they have nexus with the armed groups.

He also alleged that the company has cheated the villagers and had taken the NOC from the armed militants.

He said that the areas belong to Manipur and its people and would not allow outsiders to drill and explore the areas without the prior accent of the locals.

He also confirmed that the DC, Tamenglong, representatives of the Manipur Pollution Control Board and the Jubilant Oil and Gas Pvt Ltd had assured in writing not to continue with the public hearing.

Meanwhile, prior to the August 17 public hearing, the Committee on Protection of Natural Resources Manipur, CPNRM organized a public consultation on petroleum exploration in Manipur at the Nungba town community hall on August 16 and resolved to oppose the public hearing of August 17.

During the public consultation, it was affirm by the participants that the land and resources in Tamenglong, Churanchandpur and Jiribam belong to the indigenous peoples of Manipur and that any development initiatives affecting the land and resources should be with full recognition of the peoples’ rights over the land and resources and prior informed consent.

The consultation also affirmed that the state government, the central government and the Jubilant Energy had signed contracts for petroleum exploration and drilling in Manipur without informing and taking consent of indigenous peoples of the state.

It was also resolved during the consultation to oppose the environmental public hearing of August 17.

It was also resolved to oppose the petroleum exploration and drilling in Tamenglong, Imphal East (Jiribam) and Churachandpur districts by the Jubilant Oil and Gas Pvt Ltd as there is no recognition of indigenous communities to be affected by the mega project.

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