CRAM expresses concern over fire at OIL drilling site in Assam

TMB Report

IMPHAL: The Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur has expressed its concern with the ongoing oil spill and fire at the oil drilling site of Oil India Limited (OIL) at Baghjan Village in Assam since May27, 2020.

It drew the attention to the fact that the OIL officials failed to control the oil spill as of June 10, 2020 while the oil blowout and uncontrolled spillage of oil and gas at the oil drilling site has led to 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.

In a press release CRAM further informed that the oil spill is having an adverse effect on biodiversity of the two eco-sensitive zones in which the Dibru Saikhowa National park is home to. At least, 36 species of mammals including feral horses and 382 species of birds are found and the carcass of a Gangetic dolphin which was declared as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, was found with its skin peeled in the Maguri wetland.

While the OIL Company has contacted experts from Singapore based Alert Disaster control to control the oil spill which indicates the failure or the lack of capacity of the OIL Company to handle major oil spills which were much concern for the 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.

In Manipur, the Oil India Limited (OIL) commenced its surveys in Khaidem, Moidangpok, Sangaithel villages in Imphal West district of Manipur since March 2017 without providing any detailed information to the villagers and in absence of their consent in which Manipur certainly falls in two of the world’s Biodiversity hotspot, it added.

It also mentioned that 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 and also downplayed the impacts of the oil exploration in Manipur.

Whereas it failed to recognize the indigenous rights of the people over their land and resources in the exploration moves in Manipur which has also involved a process of disrespect and non-application of human rights-based approach to development. Hence, CRAM urged the concern company to compensate and rehabilitate the affected communities by the oil spill in order to restore their livelihood and health and also the concern OIL Company should be held accountable for social impacts and irreparable loss of biodiversity. An investigation should also be pursued to prosecute the responsible involved officials of the companies, it demanded.  

It also suggested that the government should refrain from pursuing unsustainable extractive industries, like oil exploration without recognizing community rights and without taking their consent.

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