Concerned by the efforts of the government to drill oil in some hill districts of Manipur, some serious consultations were carried by villagers in association with some organizations on May 2 and 3 in Nungba area of Noney district.
A press statement issued jointly by Nungba Areas Village Authority Association (NAVAA), Centre for Research and Advocacy Manipur (CRAM) and Peace Core Team Manipur (PCTM) they organized community consultations on “Protection of Land, Environment and Natural Resources” at Nungba town and Goinanglong village, Manipur on May 2 and 3.
The consultations were organized 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 2017.
According to the press release, 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 and many others participated in 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,” the statement added.
Akhonliu, a 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.
According to the press note, 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. “Oil exploration will unleash social, environmental, cultural impacts and inter-generational impacts on communities and their land,” she shared and 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 reaffirmed their stance against issuance of No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to Asian Oilfield, Alpha Geo and other oil companies for any surveys related to oil 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.
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, the press note added.