TODAY -

CRAM expresses serious concern over oil spill in Assam
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, June 11 2020: The Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM) expressed serious concern over the ongoing oil spill and fire at the oil drilling site of the Oil India Limited (OIL) at Baghjan village in Assam since May 27 .

The oil blowout or uncontrolled spillage of oil and gas at the site has led to displacement of more than 3000 community members in Baghjan village and surrounding areas.

The spill has contaminated much of the Maguri-Motapung wetland, part of the eco-sensitive zone of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.

The Dibru Saikhowa National park is home to at least 36 species of mammals including feral horses and at least 382 species of birds.

Locals had found a carcass of a Gangetic dolphin, declared as "endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The OIL company has contracted 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 in Manipur since 2010, said a statement of CRAM.

In Manipur, the Oil India Limited (OIL) commenced surveys at Khaidem, Moidangpok, Sangaithel villages in Imphal West district since March 2017 "without providing" any detailed information to the villagers and in absence of their "consent" .

Manipur indeed falls in two of the world's biodiversity hotspot, the Eastern Himalayas biodiversity hotspot, and Indo-Burma hotspot and oil exploration and related spills like in Baghjan will entail massive social and environmental impact.

Oil companies have been downplaying the impact of oil exploration in Manipur, said CRAM.

"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 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.

The communities affected by the oil spill should be fully compensated and rehabilitated to restore their livelihood and health.

OIL should be held accountable for social impacts and irreparable loss of biodiversity," it said adding the issue should be investigated and officials OIL involved should be booked.

The Government should refrain from adopting unsustainable extraction of natural resources without the community's consent and recognizing their rights, added CRAM.


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