The consultations were organised in context of ongoing efforts of the government of India to explore and drill oil from Manipur and awarding contract to Asian Oilfields by Oil India Limited for re-surveys for oil exploration in Tamenglong and Churachandpur in January this year.
Leaders of village authorities of Nungba area and Goinamlong area, including from villagers such as Nungba, Balongdai, Muktina, Thingou, Okoklong, Toudaijang, Sibilong, Keimai, Kambiron, Tajai Keiphun, Goinanglong etc attended the consultations.
Among village leaders sharing experiences, Disinglung Kamei, chairman, Sibilong village authority shared how their village rejected the recent request for No Objection Certificates (NOC) by Asian Oil Field for conducting oil surveys, reasoning that no single village can issue NOC to oil companies without consultation and agreement among all affected villagers.
Akhonliu, women leader from Nungba Town expressed concern with the recent effort of the Oil India Limited and the Asian Oil Field to conduct re-surveys for initiating oil exploration in Tamenglong without providing clear information of impacts and also without taking the consent of affected villagers and despite the staunch objection to oil exploration plan in Tamenglong in 2012.
Lungthangpao Dangmei, member, village authority shared how Asian Oilfields also tried to seek NOC from Kambiron Village.
Aram Pamei, co-convenor, Peace Core Team, Manipur shared that recent effort of Asian Oilfields to conduct survey is a violation of indigenous peoples’ rights. She shared oil exploration will unleash social, environmental, cultural impacts and inter-generational impacts on communities and their land.
She urged communities not to give up their land for unsustainable projects like oil exploration and instead should develop their land for coming generations.
Jiten Yumnam of CRA, Manipur stressed for recognition of community rights over their land and resources and their self-determined development processes.
The villagers attending the consultations reaffirm their stance against issuance of No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to Asian Oilfield, Alpha Geo and other oil companies for any surveys related tooil exploration and drilling in Tamenglong.
The participants also resolved to defend their land and resources against oil drilling in Tamenglong and other parts of Manipur and decided to urge upon the Government of India and Manipur and concerned oil companies to respect indigenous peoples’ rights over their land and resources and to refrain from any forceful oil exploration without their consent.
Further the participants also agreed to build solidarity and unity among all communities affected by oil exploration to strive for a self-determined development processes and for stronger recognition of their human rights.
Source: Imphal Free Press