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Stop Oil Exploration In North East India, Defend IP Rights, Protect The Environment

Just days after the commemoration of World Environment Day, reality confronts us on how state actions and big corporations continue to worsen Indigenous Peoples (IP) vulnerabilities and fail in protecting endangered ecosystems. The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) calls for accountability and justice for the oil well catastrophe to indigenous Assam communities and to the environment of North East India.

On June 9, a huge fire erupted in Assam's Baghjan in the Tinsukia district after a 14-day uncontrollable oil leak from the damaged oil well by Oil India Limited (OIL). Reports say over 6,000 peoples, mostly indigenous Assamese communities, have been evacuated in make-shift camps. Adding to the burden on the adverse effects on lives and livelihoods from the Covid-19 crisis.

Before the fire, the oil leak polluted the Maguri-Motapung wetlands, an ecotourism site, and Dibru Saikhowa national park, known for its migratory birds. Animals, crops, the endangered Gangetic River dolphin, and other aquatic animals near OIL's plant have either died or severely destroyed, impacting the people's health, source of food and livelihood. Around 30 houses burned from the fire that is visible from 4-5 km away from the site. A Singapore-based disaster control team estimates that it might take four weeks to stop the fire and oil leaks.

OIL, a state-owned company, engages in exploration, development, and production of crude oil, natural and liquid petroleum gas. However, India’s national policies like North East Hydrocarbon Vision 2030, the Manipur Hydro Power Policy 2012, Indian Oilfield Act 1948 and New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) enabled the extensive corporatization, privatization and exploitation of Indigenous Peoples lands through rampant oil exploration, including other mining and energy projects. Under NELP, the OIL extends its work in various overseas projects in Libya, Gabon, USA, Nigeria and Sudan.

IPMSDL joins the call of IP communities, environmental groups, and civil society organizations to stop all oil exploration and revoke all contracts and licenses for oil projects across the North East States that continue to disrespect indigenous rights.

The true cost of oil, and all destructive development projects in indigenous lands, amounts to the lives and lands of Indigenous Peoples auctioned to companies for exploitation. Environmental protection remains empty rhetoric unless people’s rights triumph over corporate greed and profit. #LandRightsNotProfit #AssamFire #BaghjanGasLeak

Stop all oil exploration in North East India!
Defend IP lands and rights!

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