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The other side of Art 371(A)
Staff Reporter Dimapur, Dec 11(NPN):
Published on 12 Dec. 2009 12:47 AM IST
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Article 371(A) pertaining to the constitutional provision which guarantees protection of ownership of land and its resources of the Nagas in Nagaland including customary practices appears to have turned into the biggest hurdle for the state government as it invariably loses litigations in court. The exploration of oil has taken a back seat thereby depriving Nagaland of a very significant source of revenue due to the special protection. Oil rich belts in Nagaland, where the ONGC had been carrying out explorations were abandoned owing to opposition by NGOs, students and underground groups. The situation may have changed albeit too late and today, even as the state is keen to go ahead, the ONGC is reluctant till the issue of rights is sorted out. In the other area, the state government has also lost large tracts of lands with buildings to claimants. As in other parts of Nagaland, Dimapur is a prime example where government lands have already been privatized. Many government colonies have become privatized and even names have been changed. The latest is the government land housing the office of the DC Dimapur, Taxes, Exicse and the Judicial office. According to highly places sources, the entire land containing the above mentioned government offices have now been given to an individual as per the judgment of the Gawahati High Court. The sources said the court had issued the directive to the district administration to cede ownership to Deziephe village supposedly comprising of the area over which these government offices exist. The district administration is now caught in a quandary over its response since pattas issued by the government including the government lands have legally become untenable. This means that following the high court’s ruling, the village has the legal authority to issue pattas within the areas. Even with regard to the management of forests reserves, like the erstwhile Rangapahar Reserved Sanctuary which has some 21,000 hectares while under Assam Forest, today the government has hardly 100 Hectares. The government has been losing almost all cases in the court and that has virtually meant it own no land.

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