Mining & indigenous rights concerns in Manipur

Jiten Yumnam *

The North East Business Summit concluded recently from 21st till 22nd November 2017 in Imphal is unique for Manipur given the scope and enormity of investments announced during the summit. At least Thirty Nine (39) MoUs were signed with various companies and States of South East Asian and European countries. The Manipur government referring to the MoUs, announced business investment worth Rs 5,000 crore from the two-day summit, including an oil pipeline from Numaligarh to Imphal via Nagaland, setting up private universities, establishment of private hospitals, to commence chromium and limestone mining in Manipur etc.

The details of the MOUs are still concealed from the people of Manipur. Earlier, the Government of India and Government of Manipur signed MoUs for road building with loan from the Asian Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The practicalities of the intent and objectives of Indiaís Act East Policy seem fully revealed through these MoUs. The ultimate concern is whether these MoUs, especially the ones focusing on extractive industries, like mining and oil exploration will ever advance Manipurís economy and polity to newer heights, or simply facilitate its ruin and political complexity.

Manipur is endowed with rich minerals deposits. The Geological Survey of India, Ministry of Mines carried out Systematic Geological Mapping up to 58% of the total geographical area of Manipur and detected numbers of minerals in Ukhrul, Chandel and Tengnoupal areas. On the survey, minerals like Limestone, Chromite, Nickle, Copper, Malachite, Azurite and various platinum group element were detected.

The combined limestone of Ukhrul, Tengnoupal and Chandel reached a proved reserve of 9.845 million tonnes, probable reserve of 3.441 million tones and possible reserve of 18.412 million tonnes. Chromite reserves of Chandel and Tengnoupal has been found at Kwatha, Sibong, Khudengthabi and Minou-Mangkang, along with 20 different reserves in Ukhrul.

The Government of Manipur developed the Industrial and Investment Policy of Manipur, 2013 and the Manipur Mineral Policy, 2010 to facilitate mining operations in Manipur. Following this policy, Super Ores Factory, a partner of the Satyam Group of Industries based in Assam was given permission by the State Government to re-establish the Hundung Cement Factory.

Subsequent upon the Union Governmentís consent to exploit chromite found in Ukhrul and Chandel districts, the State Government has started issuing prospective licenses. The State Government has also signed an undertaking with Orissa based private company Orient for mining chromite in Manipur.

In Manipur, Mining is not a new phenomenon and indeed, limestone mining and cement factory has long been operational at Hundung since 1989 with a plant capacity of 15,000 tpy till the facility was closed down due to land conflict, health, social and environment impacts due to the factory. The Chromite mining efforts in Ukhrul district was marred with community objections.

Mining is recognized as one of the most controversial economic activities globally. Over the last decade, more than 560 million acres of land in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia previously dedicated to food production are now being used for mineral extraction and biofuel production. In Orissa, Britain based mining giant, Vedanta and also the South Korean owned POSCOís USD $12 billion coal mine project in Odisha were compelled to halt operation by affected communities.

Mining will entail extensive forest destruction and with a weak regulatory mechanism coupled with controversial forest clearance processes in Manipur, mining will unleash irreparable damages. The disregard of forest laws is evident in the railway works in Tamenglong District by Northern Frontier Railways and also in Mapithel dam, the latter being a subject of dispute in the National Green Tribunal.

Another impact is on accessibility of safe and clean drinking water as most of the River and other water system will be polluted with contaminated discharges from Chromium and Limestone mining. Nearby, pollution of rivers due to limestone and coal mining has long been a concern in Meghalaya. In Papua New Guinea, BHP Billitonís open pit Ok Tedi Mine caused pollution of the Ok Tedy and Fly Rivers.

Indigenous peoples landscape will be modified and polluted through open pit mining, road construction and dumping of mining waste. Indigenous peoples will lose access to their traditional livelihood sources. Mining will undermine indigenous peoplesí cultures and generate much vulnerability on women.

Chromium mining is associated with emission of radioactive substance and hence the health impact will be enormous for local communities. Villagers of Hundung village confirm how the Cement production in Hundung Cement factory caused wide health impacts. The obligation of the State to protect corporate bodies to sustain Indiaís Act East policy will lead to worsening militarization of Manipur, which would be an additional pressure to land and resources in Manipur. In West Papua, Indonesia, mining giants like Rio Tinto and Freeport McMoran relied on military to subdue the indigenous peoplesí resistance of plunder and expropriation of their land and resources.

The privatization of development process will be intensified through mining. Mining also fueled much conflict in indigenous territories. Indeed, in all indigenous territories, mining has been introduced as gift of development, but in reality, either it turned their land as battle fields or as contaminated land bereft of life and real development.

Mindanao region of the Philippines is an example of how mining led to militarization and human rights violations, even by the private guards of mining companies like Anglo-American, Red 5 of Australia, Rio Tinto etc. Mining TNCs even sued Governments for loss of profits and for introducing any policy measures to regulate their functioning. In 2009, the Pacific Rim sued the El Salvador Government in the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a corporate tribunal of the World Bank for a demand of 301 Million US Dollar.

In India, there is increased insistence on application of neoliberal policies to the mining industry. The fast deregulation of policies on land, forest rights, and environment clearances and also on mining and also the formulation of new policies like Public Private Partnerships for increased privatization clearly explained the neoliberal move of the Government of India in mining.

The principal Act governing the mining of minerals in India, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act dating back to 1957, has also been amended several times towards privatizing the mining sector, including in 2010, for the direct entry of foreign companies. The 1957 Act (24 A (2)) describes indigenous peoples as ďoccupiers of the surface of the landĒ and extinguished in one sentence the cultural, social, spiritual, economic and traditional rights of indigenous communities over their land and forest areas.

Further, the Mining and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill 2015 has been passed by both houses of parliament on 29 November 2015. The 2015 amendment accorded more emphasis on the rights of Central Government on major minerals and also on the rights and role of private mining companies and conferment of more legal impunity. The 2015 amendment Bill has no such provision for consultation with communities.

The challenge of mining in Manipur, apart from non-recognition of community rights over land and resources, is the absence of a Rehabilitation and resettlement policy for Manipur that should guide any rehabilitation process. The Right to Fair Compensation and Rehabilitation Bill of 2013 (LARR) also excludes Mining Act of India and its amendments from its purview of land acquisition and fair compensation processes.

Further, Manipur does not have any policy to regulate extractive industries or for that matter to regulate corporate bodies, especially Multinational Companies to ensure their accountability and adherence to traditional customary norms and other human rights standards.

Realities of large scale mining in Asia, Africa and Latin America indicated that large scale mining projects of multinational corporations violate Mother Nature, plundered peoplesí natural resources and cause untold human sufferings. Large scale mining companies and their financiersí thirst for insatiable profits led to more land grabbing, foster poverty, inequality, conflict and human rights violations.

The French mining giant, Lafarge is involved in arbitrary alienation of Khasi peoplesí forest land in Meghalaya with their limestone mining operation and the case was even taken to the Supreme Court of India6. The resistance of Indigenous peoples of Meghalaya to UCILís plan to mine uranium from Meghalaya on environment and social impact concerns will be a good lesson for Manipur.

In Africa, mining companies including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Barrick Gold etc operates extracting gold, diamond, copper, iron ore and even uranium for long. However, Africa continues to remain one of the most impoverished continents, with the highest rate of malnutrition, poverty and conflict. As resources are taken out to developed and high income developing countries, Africa remains undeveloped. Rich countries simply get richer while Africa languishes in extreme poverty and conflict.

Manipur and other North East region now becomes a new playground for corporations from rich developed countries, like France, Korea, Holland, and other Indian companies to expropriate its land and resources to consolidate their profits, economic and political powers. The colonization of Asia, African and Latin American Countries by the Western powers is intended to gain control of their natural resources. It seems Manipur is now descending into an era of modern colonization era, amidst a reality where development alternatives and sustainable development defines development processes globally.

The extensive damage of forest areas by project proponents and the corporate bodies involved in building dams, oil exploration and Trans Asian Railways without recognizing and considering communities livelihood dependence of forest and without taking their consent is a major concern in Manipur. The unaccountability of corporate bodies is exemplified by the multiple private companies involved in destroying forest for railway works in Tamenglong.

Further, the proposed plans to set up cement factories in Ukhrul District without conducting any environment and social impact assessment will simply be a disaster which will lead to multiple levels of conflict. The persisting concerns with limitations of policies governing mining operations and social, environmental and human rights impacts need be carefully considered before mining in Manipur. Devising strategies to best manage Manipurís resources with its peoples based on their wishes and aspiration and alternatives would be crucial as well.

The application of mining act and its amendments will lead and complicate persisting conflict in Manipur, especially in areas identified for Limestone and Chromite mining. Recognizing indigenous peoplesí rights over their land and resources and their self-determined development as outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 would be a key step for sustainable development in Manipur.

Plunder of land and resources by corporate bodies will never contribute in uplifting Manipurís economy. Pursuance of any forms of extractive industries, especially mining and oil exploration, will be a recipe for disaster, multilayered conflict and unending crisis in Manipur.

* Jiten Yumnam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on December 19 , 2017.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Kanglei Thokpa @ Sagol Kangjei : Gallery
  • Violence in Manipur 2023-2024 : Timeline
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2024 #3: Gallery
  • Meitei Professors' Invention granted Patent
  • Historic Premiere: 'Chilli Chicken' at Manipur
  • Effective Unified Command for Resolution
  • Music & Quiz: Drug Abuse amongst youth
  • Visionless and headless DMU
  • When is the right time & situation for PM visit
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #37: Download
  • Inspirations from Scientists of Manipur: Book
  • Manipur crisis: Treat the disease, not symptom
  • 133rd Durand Cup Trophies Flags Off
  • NEET droppers vs freshers
  • Death : Only future to look at ?
  • Mental health of displaced people
  • Aftermath of Imphal Flooding #1 : Gallery
  • When was the last time we smiled ?
  • Appeal to Stop Unbearable Monetary Demand
  • 'Oppenheimer' links with Supreme Science
  • 'Preventing from holding a press conference'
  • Travel tips during Monsoon
  • Look at it via ground reality
  • Making the 'Balak Buddhi' wiser
  • Kang Chingba @Govindajee #1 : Gallery
  • Release Ebo Mili & Stop large dams in ArP
  • Rainforests are the lungs of Earth
  • Education suffering from political interference
  • Inflated bill main vote plank, law dont cut graft
  • From the Lok Sabha to Manipur
  • Third visit of Rahul
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #9
  • International Day of Yoga #1 : Gallery
  • Lord Jagannatha's processional chariot fest
  • World Zoonoses Day 2024
  • PM 'bola' in Parliament
  • Acknowledging the stand of UNC
  • Embracing tree plantation as a new trend
  • 17th N Tombi Equestrian C'ships #2 : Gallery
  • The spirit & the creed of the Olympics
  • Kang Chingba (Rath Yatra) : Book
  • 'Economic blockade: Rumors baseless'
  • The Power of Poppy - 38 :: Poem
  • Balancing children's academic performance
  • Imphal flooded (again) [Jul 3] #2 : Gallery
  • Covid, Ngari, Yu and Loktak
  • Rural people struggling with network problem
  • English certificate courses for BA student
  • 6th July is International Day of Cooperatives
  • Clogging the waterways with plastics
  • Diverting public attention from core issues
  • Manipur Kanba Khongchat #2 : Gallery
  • Gateway of Assam
  • Integrating GIS & EWS for flood management
  • The Dopamine overdose
  • Free workshop on civil service exams
  • Bucket of cold water after a hot shower
  • Breaking the silence
  • Imphal flooded (again) [Jul 3] #1 : Gallery
  • Embracing 'Sharra - Kashar-ot'
  • Drug abuse & illicit trafficking in Manipur
  • Nudity being served to increase followers
  • Record high temperature
  • Bangladesh FM Hasan Mahmud's Riyadh visit
  • Indigenous call for NRC
  • Come home to the electorates
  • Meiteis must unite for survival
  • Flood advisories issued
  • State & District Control Rooms
  • Green Hydrogen for a clean environment
  • Need for an Emergency
  • Monsoons beauty
  • Calling out the indifference of Delhi
  • Questioning the silence with a roar
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #8
  • Problem & prospect of floriculture in Manipur
  • WomenLeaders India Fellowship 2024-25
  • Naga Peace Talks and Narasimha Rao
  • Arunachal Minister visits Oil Palm @Godavari
  • Clear cut stand from the Nagas
  • Crisis resolution in 100-day plan ?
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #2 : Gallery
  • Manipur: A battleground of imperial geopolitics
  • Wangkhem Suresh @ Higher Defence Course
  • Shoppers Stop's 1st Store in Dimapur
  • Stop razing rail station, divert 25k Cr to Signal
  • Has Imphal completely lost the plot ?
  • Time to take responsibility
  • Tarpon chaklen katpa @ Andro #3 : Gallery
  • July Calendar for Year 2024 : Tools
  • Letter to Prime Minister of India
  • International Day of Parliamentarism
  • Skill Development Course at Lumshnong
  • The Power of Poppy - 37 :: Poem
  • Radio E-pao: Manipuri Film OST (130+ song)
  • Manipur Kanba Khongchat #1 : Gallery
  • Multiple Openings @ JCRE Solutions
  • Our mass addiction to predicting future
  • Bonsai - A play with another aspect : Review
  • Timely diagnosis to stop misuse of medicines
  • Impactful tool- Instagram marketing strategy
  • Essence of the June 28 rally
  • Birds of the same feather
  • Scientist of Manipur: Satyendra Thoudam
  • Education and the fate of Manipur
  • Centre not mind talking to Kitovi or Alezo
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Nambol
  • Why Bangladesh urge military diplomacy
  • MoU : Assam Don Bosco Univ with Cambridge
  • Understanding beyond the coup
  • Donning the role of LoP
  • Rally @ Jiribam [June 26] : Gallery
  • Umananda Island- World smallest river island
  • Breaking the impasse
  • Fantasies of a sinister childhood
  • Program: developing women entrepreneurship
  • Microlearning is impacting talent acquisition
  • Looking for the way forward
  • The message
  • Moirangthem Robi - Mr Universe India 2022
  • Parthenium Menace in Indo-Myanmar : Book
  • Respect & recognise domestic worker
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Hiyanglam
  • One test not for India
  • Include tomatoes in your skincare routine
  • Raising ST call a notch or two higher
  • United in grief, but...
  • Panthoibi Phijol Hongba @Mandalay : Gallery
  • Open Letter to Hon'ble CM of Manipur
  • Slavery in the machine world
  • 'Either Rio regime delivers or it fails'
  • No need for NEET or NET
  • Walkathon to promote health at Guwahati
  • Paradox of arming & disarming citizens
  • Meaningless statements
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #7
  • You are king of web, then slave
  • A Groundbreaking HIV Prevention Option
  • Board of Studies at Assam Don Bosco
  • Public Services as a career choice
  • Manipur violence and state
  • Last minute cancellation
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #36: Download
  • Saraighat Bridge - An Expedition
  • Meeting with MP Dr Bimol Akoijam
  • Manipur: 11 medal (5 gold) @ Natl Taekwondo
  • Socialization and the Two "Meads"
  • The Power of Poppy - 36 :: Poem
  • Scientist of Manipur: Raghumani Ningthoujam
  • Chilli Chicken Delivers a Flavorful Punch
  • International Day of Yoga 2024
  • Antimicrobial Resistance: Top 10 health threat
  • Indo-Naga Talks (From 2012) :: Timeline
  • Taste vs Health
  • Fiasco of UGC-NET, NEET 2024
  • From NEET to NET: It's time to fix NTA
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #1 : Gallery
  • Ema Panthoibi Phijol Hongba at Mandalay
  • Proposed Palm Plantation behind Jiri violence?
  • 'Why Impose War on Us'
  • Why workers most affected by scorching heat?
  • Coup of 2021 not the only push factor
  • Last chance not to fall from grace
  • Ibudhou Cheng Hongba #1 : Gallery
  • Kind attention 'Your Lordship' CJ of India
  • 'Opposition-less Govt in Nagaland is rhetoric'
  • Xorai - Assam's cultural symbol
  • Natural ways to lighten dark underarms
  • Is Delhi doing the right thing ?
  • Set the priorities right
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #3 : Gallery
  • Modi's arduous journey & fate of Naga peace
  • Autism: Why fit in, when you can stand out?
  • Bloodstained Masquerade :: Poem
  • Dharamvir Singh: Forgotten hero of TV
  • What is keeping the clash going on ?
  • Warning of a coming politico-military storm
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #6
  • The Great June 18 Uprising : Timeline
  • The Great June 18 Uprising : Gallery
  • Are we on track to end AIDS by 2030 ?
  • 3 writers from Manipur for Sahitya Akademi
  • Manipur's traffic, parking: A big nuisance
  • Career in elderly care
  • Keeping the folks under a state of confusion
  • Nothing neat about NEET
  • Aid to relief camps @ Jiribam : Gallery
  • Gastronomy tourism in Manipur : Gallery
  • Eid-ul-Adha: Embracing sacrifice
  • Bike Rally - Sekmai to Kangla : Gallery
  • Tarpon chaklen katpa @ Andro #2 : Gallery
  • 2nd Annual Art Exhibition #1 : Gallery
  • Education Fair @Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #2 : Gallery
  • Scientist of Manipur: Laishram Shanta
  • Bimol Akoijam (Cong) wins Inner PC : Gallery
  • 'Ishanou' Selection @ Cannes #2: Gallery
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #3 : Gallery
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #1 : Gallery
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #2 : Gallery
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #1 : Gallery
  • Licypriya meets Italy PM & Pope Francis
  • HSLC (Class X) 2024 : Full Result
  • HSLC 2024 : Important Info & Grading System
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Private Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Aided Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Govt Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Statistical Abstract
  • HSLC 2024 : Comparative Statement
  • Scientist of Manipur: Jayanta Manoharmayum
  • Scientist of Manipur: Amom Ruhikanta
  • Preserving Thang-Ta :: Rare Photos
  • Malemnganbi Laishram : Science Topper
  • Thokchom Sheityajit : Arts Topper
  • Aiena Naorem : Commerce Topper
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Science Topper
  • HSE 2024 : Subject Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : District Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : Candidates with Highest Marks
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Science Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Arts Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Commerce Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Arts Topper
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Commerce Topper
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing : Full Book
  • A ferocious hailstorm @Imphal : Gallery
  • Scientists of Manipur : Ngangkham Nimai
  • GHOST of PEACE :: Download Booklet
  • List of Kings of Manipur: 33 - 1984 AD