The Government of India through its Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had granted license to Jubiliant Oil and Gas Private Limited (JOGPL), based in Netherlands for exploration and drilling works in two oil blocks in Manipur located in the Jiribam (Imphal East), Tamenglong and Churachandpur districts of Manipur, without informing and taking the consent of all indigenous peoples of Manipur. The contracts were awarded under the eighth round of New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) of the Government of India. Earlier, without informing the people of Manipur again, the Government had undertaken series of promotions globally in 2003 and 2009 to promote the oil blocks in Manipur along with others through road-shows in major cities worldwide, London, Houston, Calgary and Perth etc, inviting bids to Oil companies.
The Production Sharing Contract for Manipur Oil Block 1 (AA-ONN-2009/1) was signed on 30th June, 2010 and the Petroleum Exploration License was granted by the Manipur Government on 23rd September, 2010. The Contract for Manipur block II (AA-ONN-2009/2) was signed on 19th July 2010 and the license was granted by the Manipur Government on 20th September, 2010. And the deeds for the exploration licenses were signed on 15th November, 2010, all without the knowledge of the people of Manipur. The total area granted for oil exploration is 3850 Square Kilometres and it is estimated that Manipur has nearly 5000 billion cubic feet of oil. The Jubiliant Energy is envisaged to drill oil from 30 oil wells, identified by the Alpha Geo Company based in Hyderabad, which has been conducting seismic studies for Jubiliant Energy.
The people of Manipur are not informed so far on what kind of terms and conditions are laid down in the licensing between the Government and the Jubiliant Energy and how the people of Manipur would be benefitted. Rather, innocent villagers of Tamenglong District are duped to sign no objections letters for Seismic surveys by Alpha Geo Company without informing them the purpose and objectives and also impacts of the surveys and oil exploration and drillings. This is a violation of the right to free, prior and informed consent of communities under International Law, especially the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples, 2007.
The Manipur Pollution Control Board has issued notifications for public hearings for petroleum explorations in Manipur scheduled at Jiribam, Parbung and Nungba on 30th July, 8th and 17th August respectively despite stiff opposition from all communities to be affected by Oil drilling in Manipur. Communities have protest rallied against Oil exploration at Nungba Bazar on 14 March 2012 and again the Manipur State Level Convention on Oil Exploration on 16 July 2012 had also resolved against Oil Exploration in Manipur. Public hearings have also proved to be meaningless exercises in Manipur. The Ministry of Environment and Forest granted environment clearance in 2008 for Tipaimukh Dam despite affected communities' objections to Tipaimukh dam in all the five public hearings held in Mizoram and Manipur.
The oil exploration move is also fraught with absence of a participatory and detailed environmental impact assessment due to exploration and drilling in Manipur. The initial EIA prepared for the public hearing has only negated the existence of endemic species of Manipur and the rich flora, flora and biodiversity of Manipur. The report also undermines the fact that the entire Tamenglong, Churachandpur and Jiribam is an eco sensitive zone where survival sources of wildlife and communities in the region goes beyond national parks and sanctuaries.
As the world has enough evidences of occasions of oil spills during testing, actual drilling, accidents and bursting of pipelines, the oil exploration would lead to severe contamination of our water bodies and rivers. The oil exploration would contaminate our soil, water, pollute our food and ground water and destroy our forests. Gas flaring would also lead to further contamination of our air, water and soil. The Barak River, Irang River, Makru River and tributaries of Barak River will be the first to be impacted by such petroleum exploration and drilling related pollutions and contaminations.
Oil Exploration and drilling would increase influx of immigrants in Manipur and intensify militarization, which would deepen human rights violations, including violence against women. The Indian army deployed in Manipur to counter insurgent groups and operating under controversial acts like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 are condemned by communities' organizations already for providing protection and security to oil companies and their associate companies for survey works and other exploration processes in Manipur.
With Manipur ranking as one of the most corrupted states and with high prevalence of favoritism, nepotism and conflict, any limited loyalty, if provided to Government of Manipur, will never reach its people, but would rather facilitate more conflict and human rights violations and to more poverty. Oil exploration moves in Manipur has already created potential source of conflict within and between communities and also between the communities and the State.
The efforts to explore and drill oil in Manipur involve disrespect and clear non adherence of human rights based approach to development. There is no process to recognize, both by the Government of India and the Oil company, Jubiliant Energy, that the oil and all resources in Manipur belongs to the indigenous peoples of Manipur and that they have exclusive rights to define and decide how to use, control and mange their resources. Till the rights of communities over their land and resources are recognized and their self determined developmental rights are recognized, the Jubiliant Energy and the Government of India should stop all petroleum and drilling related activities in Manipur.
· Stop all Oil Exploration & Drilling in Tamenglong, Churachandpur, Jiribam in Manipur
· Repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958
· Implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 in Manipur
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