Nagaland: Northeast Diary: Oil is not doing well in Nagaland, and the reason is… | News from India

In Nagaland, it all boils down to one thing: displeasure Nagas political problem. It goes without saying that the impasse in the Naga peace process has been a hindrance to the overall development of the northeastern state.
A recent move to allow oil and natural gas exploration in Nagaland has raised concerns among local groups. So much so that the rebel group NSCN (IM) issued a diktat saying it would allow any such move until an “honorable political solution” to the decades-old Naga political issue was reached.
Earlier, the Naga National Political Groups (NNPG), an umbrella body of nearly half a dozen groups including the NSCN (IM), expressed grievances after Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma agreed in principle on April 22 for oil and gas exploration in the disputed border areas between the two states. The two leaders were of the view that both states would benefit.
Under impeachment, the state government has now decided not to proceed with signing any MoU with Assam on oil exploration before a final consultation is held with stakeholders and tribal bodies, Deputy Prime Minister Y Patton he told reporters.

Nagaland is estimated to have 600 million tons of oil and natural gas reserves, according to experts. In the 1970s, the state-owned ONGC acquired a license to explore for oil and natural gas in Wokha district, as a result of which 29 oil wells were drilled. However, rebel-backed protests, which argued that the central PSU did not have the right to extract natural resources that belonged to the Naga, stalled any further move in the 1990s.
Article 371A of the Indian constitution which applies to Nagaland has a special provision. It says that “no Act of Parliament relating to … ownership and transfer of land and its resources shall apply to Nagaland State unless the Nagaland Legislative Assembly so decides by resolution.” Citing this constitutional provision, local communities claim they have unquestioned rights to natural resources, including oil and gas.

There is a background: after the ONGC abandoned oil exploration in 1994, the Nagaland government took over the oil fields. Subsequently, the state finalized its own policy, the Nagaland Petroleum and Natural Gas (NPNG) Regulations in 2012, and handed over the oil fields to a private entity. But the matter came to court after the Lotha Hoho, the apex body of the Lotha tribe of Nagaland, filed a petition against the state government’s move.
The tribal body says it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Neiphiu Rio in 2018 for an amendment to the NPNG, following which the former withdrew its GDP from the Kohima Bench of the Gauhati High Court .
Annoyed by Rio’s deal with Assam CM, Lotha Hoho threatened to boost GDP if the state government didn’t reverse the move. “We fail to understand why Nagaland Chief Minister is bypassing stakeholders and showing ‘so much faith’ in Assam Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Sarma… The memorandum of understanding signed between the state government and Lotha Hoho is a legal document, and the Lotha Hoho can revive the GDP at any time as enshrined in the MoU,” the tribal group said in a statement quoted by local media.


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