A large quantity of fuel leaking from the Leimakhong power station in Manipur’s Imphal West district has led to the spillover of the discharge along streams passing through several villages, an official said on Thursday, adding necessary steps were being taken to prevent an environmental calamity. The spillage happened on the night of January 10 at the Leimakhong power station, affecting Kantosabal, Sekmai and nearby villages.
The streams eventually join the Imphal river downstream, which is a vital water source for several villages, including Kantosabal and Sekmai. The Imphal river is the lifeline of Imphal valley, comprising several districts.
An official said that it was yet to be known if there was any involvement of miscreants behind the incident, or just an “accident”. Villagers depend on the water of the affected streams for their day-to-day activities. Manipur government has constituted a three member committee to conduct an inquiry in the fuel leak, which continued for a third day on Friday.
Currently, the Leimakhong area has been completely sealed and additional security forces have been posted at the defunct power plant. The three-member committee will submit its report within 15 days. The Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED) will collect samples from the affected water bodies and send to IIT Guwahati daily. The course of the Leimakhong river has been diverted to a nearby dugout field at Kanto Sabal to contain the spread of contaminants in the public water system .
Accident or Sabotage?
The Meiteis of Leimakhong were forcibly displaced and most of their properties were reduced to ashes by armed Kuki mobs in May 2023. Since then, it has become nearly impossible for any Meitei to venture near this town. Kuki terrorists have launched regular attacks on nearby Meitei villages. Security personnel of the JAT regiment were injured during one of these attacks on Kanto Sabal on the 20th of June 2023 . Kuki terrorists had opened fire on NTT journalist Tamal Saha and homeless Meitei women at the foothills of Leimakhong on 30th June . They had sabotaged a pipeline which supplied drinking water to several nearby villages like Khurkhul and Kanto Sabal on the 8th of June . Three Kuki terrorist groups are currently operating in the Leimakhong region, two of whom are under the Suspension of Operations (So0) agreement . These terrorist groups are:
- KNF (Under the protection of SOO) led by Tiger with around 60-70 cadres.
- KRA (Under the protection of SOO) led by David Hangshing with 30-40 cadres.
- A newly formed group from Churachandpur with 30-40 cadres under the leadership of James Tangliu.
These groups are suspected to be using the Leimakhong -Makhan- Gamgiphai route.
Some observations on the so-called “oil leak” from the defunct heavy fuel power plant in Leimakhong:
1. The shortest distance between the power plant and the river is 450 meters. If the oil leak has to reach the river it would have to pass through a crowded area. There are no traces of heavy fuel in the streets. There were only a few tanks of oil left in the defunct power plant. This makes an underground storage leak extremely unlikely. Oil from underground storage tanks can seep into the Leimakhong river only in case of a massive leak.
2. The Leimakhong power plant received its fuel through tanker transfers and not through pipes . The possibility of pipes bursting at a place near the river can be safely ruled out.
Thus, there are strong hints that this contamination of local streams with heavy fuel is an act of sabotage. It is often observed that janajatis who convert to Christianity lose their love and reverence for nature. It is high time that the state stops all missionary activities and breaks their stranglehold on education and healthcare institutions.
(With IANS inputs)
-By VladAdiReturns (x.com/@VladAdiReturns)
 Eyewitness accounts and testimonies of security personnel
 Debanish Achom on X: “An engineer who had been to this dead power plant said it does not get fuel via pipes, but through tanker transfers. This rules out pipe burst at another place near the river, away from the plant. #Leimakhong #Manipur” / X (twitter.com)