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Ecuador's indigenous tribe files case against Chinese firm over pollution

Ecuador's indigenous tribe files case against Chinese firm over pollution

An Amazonian tribe in Ecuador has filed a lawsuit against PetroOriental a state-owned Chinese oil company over polluting their environment through flaring—the process of burning natural gas from oil fields. The indigenous Waorani tribe has filed the case in Francisco de Orellana in Orellana province, reports <strong><a href="https://www.daily-sun.com/printversion/details/523220/Amazoncommunity-files-lawsuit-against-Chinese-firm"><em>Daily Sun</em></a></strong>.

The community says that the burning of gas has resulted in pollution of their land and water resources. Their yields have gone down by half and the rain is full of pollutants due to which they do not have drinking water. The community has alleged that PetroOriental has contaminated their ancestral lands.

Accion Ecologica—the environment NGO supporting the Waorani community in the court case says that the flares can be stopped and that would actually result in generating electricity. However, this would require big investment. Burning the gas is a cheaper option but it produces environmentally-disastrous impacts for the local people.

<a href="https://www.amazonfrontlines.org/chronicles/waorani-victory/"><strong>Last year too</strong> </a>the community had won a major battle against its own government over a faulty consultation process due to which their lands in the Amazon forest were put up for an international oil auction. The community had filed the case against three government ministries which included the Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources, the Secretary of Hydrocarbons, and the Ministry of Environment.

The court agreed that the process followed by the government is faulty and violates the community's rights. The Waorani community presented before the judges that the government made the economic benefits of oil drilling clear to them but did not disclose the environmental impacts. The court ruling prevented the Ecuadorian government from selling off Amazon forest areas for oil drilling, marking a major victory for the tribe against its own government.

Similar movements and court battles in neighbouring Peru have resulted in oil companies getting expelled from the Amazonian forests. Many of these communities and indigenous tribes are battling not just the oil extraction industry but also seek more control over their natural resources—rivers, forests and lands.

PetroOriental becomes the latest company to face music in the forests of Amazon..