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Rengmas demand 10% royalty on crude oil
Published on 25 Feb. 2009 1:10 AM IST
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Asserting that they were the “sons of the soil and owner of the land” from where the ONGC is extracting crude oil from a number of locations in the Rengma Reserve Forest (RRF), the Rengmas have demanded payment of 10% oil royalty from the authorities concerned. In this regard, a Rengma Naga Hoho delegation comprising nine members from Rengma Hoho, Western Rengma Hoho and Western Rengma Naga People’s Conference, Karbi Anglong submitted a memorandum to Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, on February 11, according to a release issued by Nillo Rengma, advisor to the Confederation of Rengma NGO (Hoho) Joint Action Committee of Assam-Nagaland. The Hoho said the ONGC was extracting crude oil from the RRF with permission from the Ministry of Forest & Environment, Government of India, New Delhi but without the consent of the Rengma Nagas. It however said the Rengmas have no objection in extraction of oil since it was in the interest of the nation. Claiming that they were the “sole inhabitants” of the RRF before the British conquest of Assam and Naga Hills, the Hoho demanded that any benefit accrued from RRF including land compensation be given to Rengma community through the Confederation of Rengma NGO (Hoho) of Assam – Nagaland and 10% of the oil royalty accrued from the RRF be calculated since 1988 till date basing on the recoverable reserve or actual quantity already extracted and pay the same amount to the Rengmas. It further demanded that the employment opportunities and other facilities first be given to the Rengma Nagas as normally practiced by any agency or government. It said treating crude oil producing areas like Gholapani, Haldibari, Lisagoan, Rengma Pather in RRF on the bank of Rengma river (Rengmapani locality) as disputed area by the governments of Nagaland and Assam and placing them under Disputed Area Belt (DAB) has no justification. The Rengmas were the owners of Rengma Reserve Forest, Nambar Reserve Forest and Diphu Reserve forest, it claimed. “Whether the areas fall under Nagaland or Assam, Rengmas are the owners of Rengma Reserve Forest, therefore, they are entitled to get land compensation, oil royalty, employment facilities etc,” the Hoho demanded. It added the total average extraction of crude oil was 288 MT per day and the total area occupied by ONGC stood at 54 acres. The Confederation of Rengma Hoho also reminded that the Regional Director, ONGC, Jorhat, Assam clearly stated in his letter dated December 19, 1990 to Chief Secretary, Nagaland that the ONGC operations fell under Rengma Reserve Forest and that the crude oil production was started in 1988. It also mentioned the crude drilling locations as Gholapani and Haldibari under Rengma Reserve Forest, East Rengma Mouza of Rengma Hills under Nambar Reserve Forest and Rengma Pathar/Uriamghat area under Rengma area.

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