Manipur and North East region now becomes a new playground for multinational companies from India and otherimperialist and capitalist countries to exploit its land and resources. Manipur has been subjected to modern day colonialism. Manipur, endowed with rich minerals deposits, such as Limestone, Chromite, Nickle, Copper, Malachite, Azurite and various platinum group in Chandel, Tengnoupal, Ukhrul etc continue to reel in economic colonization. With Manipur confirmed with rich oil deposits of Oil in Tamenglong, Churachandpur, Jiribam, Imphal West Districts etc, oil companies likeOil India Limited, the Asian Oilfield Survey Limited, Jubilant Oil and Gas private limited, Alphageo etc with support of the Government of India aggressivelytried to explore and drill oil from Manipurdespite peoples objections. Efforts for mining and oil exploration in Manipur by the Government of Manipur without recognizing the rights of its people and by subjecting them to land acquisition and other human rights violations is a semblance of modern day imperialism and economic colonialism by the Government of India to subdueManipur economically and politically. The Government of India should stop exploiting Manipur’s natural resources and should recognize her Self Determination over herland andresources.
On one hand, International Financial Institutions (IFI’s)intensified their presence and reach in Manipur and across India’s North East, financing in building roads, power generation and other connectivity projects, facilitating the plunder of land and resources of Manipur to further global capitalism and India’s imperialist expansionism. The World Bank financed 400 KV High Voltage Transmission and Distribution line will facilitate the proposed construction of Hundreds of hydropower projects across Manipur and in North East India over the Barak-Brahmaputra River System. The Asian Development Bank and Japan also financed road infrastructure to facilitate these project and extractive industries.
The unprecedented involvement and role of the IFIs in Manipur already led to unprecedented expropriation of land and suppression of communities asserting their rights over their resources. The overt IFI financing will impoverish Manipur, subjecting her to indebtedness to their loans thus compelling Manipur to mortgage the resources, water, oil, forest, minerals etc to service such debt.
The signing of the India - ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2009 already led to adverse economic and social impact to the people of Manipur, which already has been converted into a dumping ground of primary produces, agriculture, clothes etc from South and South East Asia. The extensive investment in connectivity projects, Trans Asian Highway, the Trans Asian Railwayand military stations for expanding neo-liberal trading system under the India -ASEAN Free Trade Agreement further exposed Manipur and other North East region to the imperialist globalization, with impact on peoples’ lives, land and resources. India’s FTA with ASEAN willintensify exploitation of natural resources of Manipur, such as hydrocarbon reserves and water sources in North East for trading with South East Asian Countries.
The strong push for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the NE region under FTA will also lead to exploitation of the people of North East, using them as cheap labour to produce bulk goods of Multinational companies while also exploiting and using raw material resources from the region. The SEZs will set up viewing the people of the region as market for these cheap bulk goods. The India – ASEAN FTA will ultimately destroythe primary and secondly economic bases, such as handloom and handicraft industries of Manipur, further reinforcing India’s economic colonization of Manipur.
On Environment, the pursuance of India’s Act East Policy and the connectivity projects, such as the Trans Asian Railway, road projects with the focus to exploit the natural resources of Manipur led to destruction of environment. Many fish species are already lost and endemic species like Sangai are facing threats due to NHPC’s 105 MW Loktak hydroelectric Project in Manipur.
The increased destruction of peoples land and resources by multinational corporations with finacing by IFIs led to increased militarism and militarization of peoples land and territories, with the legal backing of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958. The establishment of military camps to support such destructive development also led to pressure on land and destruction of environment.
The construction of mega projects, such as dams, oil exploration, Trans Asian railway etc led to destruction of natural and cultural sites of Manipur. The loss of endemic fish and plant species land and resources involved in the plunder of Manipur’s land and resources also involved undermining the unique natural and cultural heritages of Manipur. Indian military continues to occupy historical and cultural sites in hills of Manipur, such as Langthabal and Chinga Hills.
William Gurumayum, Sub-Editor of Imphal Times is a resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai. He has been with Imphal Times since beginning. A avid adventure lover, writes mostly travelogue.