Oil drilling ceased following fresh NSCN-IM diktat

HNS/IMPHAL, Apr 30: Oil exploration work in Tamenglong district and Imphal East’s Jiribam subdivision has been totally banned by NSCN-IM, saying no such mining works cannot be carried out in the outfit’s ‘territory.’

Jubilant Energy Pvt Ltd started the oil exploration work in Block-II of Tamenglong and Jiribam, which are parts of Assam-Arakan Basin, in September this year after the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India licensed the company to take up the job in 2010. NSCN-IM has been constantly threatening both the State and Central Governments that no mineral mining works should be carried out within its territory.

This time, the Naga outfit warned the company of dire consequences if it did not complying with its diktat, sources said Wednesday.

Leaving with no other option, the company had to give up the work, they said.

It has been presumed that oil might be found in an area covering nearly 8, 000 sq km within the Block-II on the southwest of Manipur, according to a data maintained by Jubilant Company.

The oil exploration work is being carried out at two sites—Block-I and Block-II—the former, covering an area of 2, 217 sq km, falls under Churachandpur district. No work has been started yet in respect of the Block-I.

Sources in the Company said that underground drilling process at the site was preparing to finalise as the machine was about to reach there soon, but the ban imposed by NSCN had forced the company to stop the work.

The drilling machine can be easily transported by a 24-wheel vehicle. However, the transportation has been disallowed by the State PWD for quite a long time, saying no such heavy machine can pass through some weak bridges along the Imphal-Jiribam route, the sources said.

The sources further said that the Jubilant Company has requested the Centre to bring an amicable solution to end the standoff arising out of the NSCN-IM diktat.

Meanwhile, Manipur Government has said the oil exploration work at Block-II will have to be discontinued until the prevailing law and order situation coupled with the difficulties in transporting the drilling machine is improved, according to a source.

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