NET News Desk
In pursuant to the oil spill and fire at the oil drilling site of the Oil India Limited (OIL) at Baghjan Village in Assam, the Centre for Research and Advocacy, CRA Manipur has raised apprehension over the oil exploration and surveys works done in Manipur since 2010.
Expressing concern over the ongoing oil spill and fire at Baghjan Village in Assam the CRA in a press statement has said that the OIL has failed to control the oil blowout, which has led to the displacement of more than 3000 community members in Baghjan Village and surrounding areas and contaminated much of the Maguri-Motapung wetland, part of the eco-sensitive zone of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park. “The oil spill has had an adverse effect on the biodiversity of the two eco-sensitive zones.”
The CRA while highlighting the oil exploration and survey works in Manipur which had been going on since 2010, stated, “The OIL company has contacted experts from Singapore based Alert Disaster Control to control the oil spill. OIL’s seeking help from foreign countries indicates the failure or the lack of capacity of the OIL company to handle major oil spills, which is a concern for indigenous peoples across North East, where Jubilant Oil and Gas Private Limited and Oil India Limited are involved in oil exploration and survey works like in Manipur since 2010.”
The CRA alleged that the Oil companies have downplayed the impacts of oil exploration in Manipur. It also claimed that OIL carried out surveys in Khaidem, Moidangpok, Sangaithel villages in Imphal West district in Manipur since March 2017 without providing any detailed information to the villagers and in the absence of their consent. The CRA further expressed apprehensions that the oil exploration and related spills like in Baghjan which entails massive social and environmental impacts, would affect Manipur which falls in two of the World’s Biodiversity Hotspot- the Eastern Himalayas Biodiversity Hotspot, and Indo-Burma Hotspot.
“The Oil India Limited unleashed human rights violations by contaminating the land and water bodies and by denying the livelihood of communities depending on rivers and wetlands, such as in Baghjan Area of Assam. The oil exploration moves in Manipur failed to recognise indigenous peoples’ rights over their land and resources. The effort to explore and drill oil in Manipur involves a process of disrespect and non-application of a human rights-based approach to development, one that recognises Indigenous peoples’ rights, more with self-determined development over their land and resources,” stated the press release.
While stressing on the need for investigating the Baghjan incident the CRA cautioned that “the continued oil spill and uncontrolled fire at Baghjan should lead to serious review and rethinking of oil exploration and fossil fuel-based industries pursued aggressively across India’s North East.”
It further asserted that the communities affected by the oil spill should be fully compensated and rehabilitated to restore their livelihood and health. It also demanded that OIL should be held accountable for social impacts and irreparable loss of biodiversity. “An investigation should be pursued to prosecute responsible officials of Oil companies involved. The Government should refrain from pursuing unsustainable extractive industries, like oil exploration without recognizing community rights and without taking their consent.”