Imphal, July 16: The Centre’s bid to extract oil from Manipur may meet the fate of Tipaimukh dam project.
Citizens’ bodies and environmentalists in Manipur are opposing the proposed drilling in three districts by a foreigncompany, maintaining extraction of oil would “doom” people living in the extraction areas.
Today, 13 citizens’ bodies from Churachandpur, Tamenglong, Imphal East and Imphal West districts and environmentalists held a convention here, which resolved to resist exploratory drilling.
The convention came ahead public hearings announced by Manipur Pollution Control Board for the exploratory oil drilling in Tamenglong, Churachandpur and and Jiribam of Imphal East district.
Public hearings will be held on July 30, August 8 and August 17 at three different places in the districts.
The Union petroleum and natural gas ministry granted a licence to the Netherlands-based Jubiliant Oil and Gas to explore and drilling at two oil blocks in the three districts in 2010.
The total area granted for exploration is 3,957 square km, one-sixth of Manipur’s total geographical area. The state is estimated to have 5,000 billion cubic feet of petroleum.
The Manipur government signed the agreement with the company on November 15, 2010.
The company engaged Hyderabad-based Alpha Geo Company to survey the two oil blocks and 30 oil wells were identified. The survey is still on.The Netherlands-based company is expected to spend more than $240 million in the 30 oil wells.
The anti-exploration activists said people in the oil well areas were kept in the dark, no information was given and the oil activities were a “threat to the survival” of these people.
Environmentalist R.K. Ranjan Singh, who is also the president of Citizens’ Concern for Dam and Development, said the project would only benefit the company and the government.
“The oil extraction is a threat to survival of the people in the three districts and, therefore, it should be resisted,” Poukhui Gangmei, convener of Joint Action Committee on Protection of Hydro-Carbon and Resources, said.
The Rs 8,138.79-crore Tipaimukh multi-purpose project on the confluence of the Barak and the Tuivai rivers in Churachandpur district at the tri-junction of Manipur, Assam and Mizoram would not take off following opposition from Manipur and Bangladesh.
Once operational, the Tipaimukh project will generate 1,500MW of power. The people had boycotted public hearings of the Tipaimukh project.
The public hearings on oil exploration are also expected to meet the same fate.
The activists alleged that the company was bribing villagers to give no-objection certificates.
The civil society bodies plan to carry out village-to-village campaigns to create awareness about the “threat” to their survival.
Ranjan said they were not against development, but would oppose projects that would bring more harm to the people than benefits.
Today’s convention urged the Centre and company to stop the exploration, revoke the contracts awarded to the company and also the ongoing survey.