The Public meeting was organized was jointly organized by People’s for Human Rights and Climate Change, Manipur, Phalang Village Women Society, Youth Club Phalang Village Youth Club and Phalang Village Authority, Urkhum District Phungyar Constituency on 7th June, 2017 at Phalang Village Community Hall.
The Meeting was attended by Mr. Moses Jojo Headman of the Village, Ms. Eliwon Keishing (Chairman Women Society ), Mr. Yuimi Keishing (Chairman Youth Club), village elders, women, students and also some of the members of PHRCC.
The meeting was aimed to make the people aware of the negative impact of the Oil exploration in Manipur and the drilling of Oil which is now being conducted by the Asian Oil Field Service Limited.
Some of the key points which was highlighted in the meetings are:
1) Misinformation and Divisive efforts of project proponents: There are also reports and allegations that the Oil companies fomented tensions by selectively providing monetary assistance to those village representatives who signed NOCs, without informing the villagers at large. Further, villagers reported that the Alphageo used NOCs derived from several armed opposition groups, community organizations in Tamenglong to misinform Village Authority leaders of their approvals to extract NOCs from village authorities and village leaders. In Nungkao village, the villagers are compelled to resort to violent means to stop oil exploration related survey works in 2012, when Alphageo conducted surveys without the consent of villagers.
Another instance of manipulative effort to acquire village land for oil exploration by oil companies is indulging in efforts to directly negotiate with individual land owners, as in the case of Nungkao and Khongsang villages in Tamenglong District. In Nungkao Village, Land sales deed was indeed prepared on terms decided and dictated by oil companies and the Government after negotiating with a land owner without taking consent of larger villagers. The terms were set in favor of the oil companies and include permanent lease and gaining control of everything above and under the land acquired. Such similar effort persists in Khongsang village, where the Alphageo tried to negotiate with individual land owners to acquire land. Such manipulative processes led to conflict and much tension among the villagers and with the oil companies.
2) Human Rights Impact: The oil exploration and drilling will lead to more militarization and human rights violations in Manipur, both to advance corporate interest and to subdue community assertion for their rights. There are also occasions where security forces tried to prevent community consultations on oil exploration organized by community organizations seeking a transparent, participatory and accountable development processes. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 in Manipur will further be reinforced to facilitate corporate expropriation of the land and resources in Manipur.
3) Violation of India’s Own Laws: The Asian Oilfield and the Oil India Limited have violated India’s Environment Protection Act, 1986 and EIA notification, 1994 by failing to take Environment Clearance and Forest Clearance for the project. The lack of accountability of oil companies is evident even before the project commenced operation.
4) Oil Drilling and Displacement: The oil drilling process in Manipur will lead to acquisition of huge agricultural land and displacement of community members either from their residential areas or from their livelihood sources. Entire village will be forced to move out either due to direct drilling or due to oil contamination and pollutions. Oil spill related pollutions and contamination of water during both exploration and drilling; impacts of gas flaring and spread of toxic materials will further undermine food sovereignty of villagers. The forced alienation of agriculture land will foster food dependency on outside. Oil exploration will aggravate this phenomenon further by polluting and contaminating agricultural land and other survival sources. The Imphal Valley is already congested and pursuance of oil exploration with pipelines and gas flaring will only lead to further loss of land, impoverishing communities further.
Resolution of the Meeting:
1. To coordinate and support all the activities related to Stop Oil Exploration in Manipur
2. To stop the Limestone and Chromium mining in Urkhul District.
3. To support to send back permanently the Asian Oilfield Service Ltd, Oil India Ltd and other multinational Oil Companies from Manipur.
After the meeting the participants had protested with the banner outside the community hall.
This Press Release was sent by Mr. Dhanabir S, who is the Convenor of People’s for Human Rights and Climate Change, and can be contacted at phrcc15@gmail(dot)com.