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Oil Spillage in Nagaland, India


Spills from the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) well sites have severely destroyed Changpang and Tsorri villages in the district. More than two thousand people have seen their farmlands, forests and water sources they rely on for their survival, contaminated because of the spillage. Protesters, mainly the students, have been demanding the state government to frame modalities for oil fields as the spillage has caused extensive environmental hazard in the area. The Nagaland government has constituted a cabinet sub-committee on petroleum and natural gas to frame modalities but it is yet to complete the process.

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Oil Spillage in Nagaland, India
State or province:Nagaland
Location of conflict:Chanpang and Tsorri villages, Wokha
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) began extraction since 1981 after acquiring permission from the Government of Nagaland in 1973 to explore oil and natural gas in the villages without obtaining the Free Prior and Informed Consent of the indigenous communities as per the national and international law Art. About 1.02 metric million tonnes of crude oil were extracted between 1981 to 1994, however, the ONGC has not disclosed the quantity of oil extracted during exploration in the period 1971 to 1981.The ONGC drilled 29 wells in the Changpang area during the year 1973-1994. Out of these, 21 wells in Changpang area were oil bearing and 2 wells were gas bearing.

Type of populationRural
Affected Population:2000
Start of the conflict:1994
Company names or state enterprises:India s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) from India
Relevant government actors:Government of Nagaland
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Kyong Students’ Union, Nepa, North East Peoples Alliance, India and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Kyong Students’ Union
Naga Students’ Federation
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Soil contamination, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
New legislation
Proposal and development of alternatives:The Naga Students Federation (NSF) while reiterating its principal stand on Acceptable, Beneficial and Honourable solutions on matters pertaining to the exploration of Oil and Natural Gas in Naga inhabited areas, has asked the State Government to immediately address the grievances of the people affected by the oil spillage at the Oil Fields.
A Public Interest Litigation, PIL, has been filed in the Gauhati High Court against the ONGC last year (2011), the Government of Nagaland and other relevant authorities in matters of an unattended oil spill in Chanpang and Tssori villages in Wokha district of Nagaland seeking compensation worth Rs. 1000 crore for the damages caused (1).
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The Nagaland government has constituted a cabinet sub-committee on petroleum and natural gas to frame modalities but it is yet to complete the process.However, there was no real positive response from the state government.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

UNDRIP Art. 19

Constitution of India, Art. 371(A)

Nagaland fences oil wells but core issues remain
[click to view]

Petition (closed) and additional information
[click to view]

[click to view]

(1) PIL seeking Rs. 1000 crore compensation filed for oil spill in Nagaland
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:920
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