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Parbung hearing peaceful, but public object oil exploration

Saturday, August 11, 2012

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
Parbung, Aug 09: A public hearing in connection with the proposed oil exploration and other allied activities in Churachandpur's Parbung under Tipaimukh Sub-division of Churachandpur District, which falls under Block AA-ONN-2009/1, was held on August 8.

The oil exploratory drilling and other allied activities were to be undertaken by the Noida (UP)  based Jubilant Oil & Gas Pvt. Ltd following inking of a Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL) with the Government of Manipur on November 15, 2010.

Jubilant Oil and Gas Private Limited (JOGPL) has its headquarters at Netherlands and is registered with the London Stock Exchange for exploration and drilling works in two blocks in Manipur. It is said that the contracts was awarded to JOGPL under the eighth round of New Exploration Licensing Policy Eighth Round (NELP-VIII). The Government of India has signed the "Production Sharing Contract" (PSC) on 19th July 2010 at New Delhi. The total area granted for oil exploration is 3957 sq kms in the two blocks, which is almost one sixth of the total area of Manipur.

Despite failing to secure free and prior informed consent of the people in whose land the project is targeted, the Oil and Gas Company has already stepped into the project targeted areas since the beginning of 2012. The uninformed villagers in Tipaimukh were taken by surprise with the pace of urgency that the oil and gas company has been exerting in the absence of any mandatory information. In the absence of the required prior information the conducted public hearing took the villagers by surprise as they were already left out by the mandatory processes.

The visiting team for the public hearing headed by Ms Jacintha Lazarus, Deputy Commissioner of Churachandpur also comprises HD Gangte, DFO, Churachandpur, N.Minaketan Singh, Senior Environmental Engineer, Manipur Pollution Control Board, Apoorva Ranjan, Vice President (Projects), Jubilant Oil and Gas Pvt Ltd, K. Jagadishwor Singh, Member Secretary, Manipur Pollution Control Board, W. Ibohal Singh, SDO (Parbung), Churachandpur.

The public hearing began with Apoorva Ranjan explaining about the proposed public hearing for the proposed exploratory drilling and allied activities in block AA-ONN2009/1 covering Churachanpur District, Manipur. After introducing the company he told the people of Parbung that the company is an experienced one in such work for over 15 years and currently operating in 7 oil & gas blocks and that its operations follows the international standards.

The unaware villagers raised innumerable questions, pushing the panel of the State to the wall without any convincing answers. The DC of Churachandpur tried its best to fill the gaps left unanswered by the Jubilant representative, but the attempt is far from delivering the right answer. The marginalised villagers' apprehension were visible from the various questions that was posed to the visiting State as well as Jubilant panel;  In the absence of any information how do we participate in the public hearing and know anything about the positive aspects of the project; how will the project impact our livelihood system; how will the project improve our basic infrastructure; how will the project sustain and conserve our environment; what measures does the company have in case of accidents with the project.

Not convinced with the manner the haste and insensitive project is being carried out, the already invisible villagers failed to romanticize about the imposed project in the same way that the distant stakeholders are imagining. The Tipaimukh villagers strongly felt that they should be the biggest stakeholders in the project while it has severely failed to count them in. Tipaimukh Village Authority are concerned with the manner in which the No Objection Certificate was issued to the project implementors. Their neglected plights sees no end as the ongoing project failed to take them into concern in any of the processes regarding their land rights and other traditional rights. Leaders of the Village Authority told this reporter about the outbreak of fire in the course of the exploration process that involves detonating loads of explosives, which destroy a good part of their reserve jhum land. The villagers' apprehension with the ongoing exploration  was further heightened as the exploration works threaten not only their sustainable livelihood prospects but actually disturb and destroy their jhum cycle also, leaving behind no alternative for their resort. "We are towards towards a famine as the inhumane project has destroyed our crops and farm in the name of development".

Majority of the daily wagers of Tipaimukh complained about the ongoing discrimination as they experienced that they were paid a much lower wages than the outside laborers while they were made to risk everything that they have never experienced before. It was a disgrace as this reporter was told that the wages of the Tipaimukh workers were raised with an amount of Rs. 2500 a couple of day before the public hearing, which was seen as a face saving exercise to everyone. In the face of all this, all the Hmar community based organisations have expressed their serious concern with the ongoing discrimination and marginalisation even when the project is still in its initial stage. The Hmar community is also at the brink of suspicion as they have totally lost their trust and confidence with the ongoing imposed project.  Five most powerful Hmar community based organisations submitted their protest as they were never involved in any of the mandatory decision making process.


Source:Hueiyen News Service
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