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Colombia: After tensions between Cumaral communities and authorities in Mansarovar Energy project, the Constitutional Court will propose the Parliament to regulate public consultations

“Public consultations cannot ban mining nor energy projects, according to paper” – 12 September 2018

Public consultations to develop mining projects and activities in territories should consider that the State is the owner of the subsoil resources and national subsoil, trespassing regional and municipal interests.  This is the main rationale contained in the draft judgement by the Constitutional Court to decide one of the controversies that makes mining or hydrocarbons operations difficult to develop:  the scope of the legitimate right of communities to oppose.  However, this document -known by El Espectador newspaper- highlights that these consultations have become one channel for communities to express their concerns and rejection, partly because there are not citizen’s participatory mechanisms available to express their opposition.  Therefore, acknowledging that there is a “deficit in protection that is constitutionally inadmissible,” the proposed language proposes a mid-term solution.  Two years for Congress to issue this regulation is of vital environmental and social importance for the nation…The origin of this polemic was the public consultation [consulta popular] promoted by some Cumaral municipality (Meta) inhabitants in June 2016 when they learned that a seismic exploration project in their rural area was going to take place, in search of hydrocarbons…The response chosen by Mansarovar Energy Colombia Ltd. Company [joint venture of Oil & Natural Gas Corp. and Sinopec] related to this oil operation, was to use the Constitutional protection mechanism  of tutela