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7 tribes stand over Kisama discourse
Published on 8 Oct. 2010 1:05 AM IST
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On the eve of the state government-initiated public discussion on the issue of Nagaland Ownership and transfer of land and its resources including petroleum and natural gas, to be held at Kisama on October 8, seven Naga tribal groups maintained that if the state government wanted to have any meaningful and effective broad-based consultation, the process should begin from the grass root level and not “ a top-down approach” with selected representatives only.
In a joint statement , the Kyong Hoho,Zeliang Public Organisation,Rengma Hoho,Pochury Public Forum, Chakhro Public Organisation, Sumi Hoho and Ao Senden, have said such discussions must address ten points of concern “ in order to appreciate and understand the context in which it is being proposed.”
According to the above mentioned tribal organizations, the concerns included the following:
1. The aforementioned resolution is already passed in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly and therefore the discussion for the issue of fixation of land compensation rates or royalty or land acquisition is pre-conditioned by the passing of the resolution in the Assembly.
2. The Resolution that “The Ownership of land and its resources lies with the Naga People and therefore, the state of Nagaland representing the people shall have the jurisdiction in regulation and development over minerals including petroleum and natural gas etc in terms of usage and shall have the control on the matter of exploration and development in the State, which will include acquisition of mineral bearing areas, fixation of land compensation rates, landowner’s share in the benefits or royalty arising out of extraction of the minerals” is problematic and misleading on several accounts.
3. The land and its resources certainly belong to the Naga people. Which is to say that the State do not own or control the resources even though the state represents the people.Representation and Owning have completely different meanings and do not imply the same either.
4. Any discussion of compensation will first have to have the component of Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the People. This cannot happen at just one exclusive meeting of selected representatives only.
5. Since time immemorial land among the Nagas have always belonged to the people and unless the community or the village decides over the use of their land for whatsoever purpose, it is not possible to discuss the issue of fixation of compensation rates.
6. Certainly the state government cannot, inspite of the article 371 A, misinterpret it to mean that they can decide without consulting the affected peoples over the issue of land ownership and transfer of natural resources.
7. It is a clear attempt by the state to disown the people over the ownership of their land and to appropriate their resources for the benefit of the few.
8. It is even outrageous to think that the acquisition of mineral bearing areas is to be controlled by the state government according to the resolution.
9. The special provision in the Constitution pertaining to Nagaland was given to protect the rights of the people over its land natural resources and not necessarily to give the right to the legislative assembly to have Control over decision on the pertinent issues of development over the minerals without the consent of the landowners.
10. The issue of royalty is a pre-condition to the people having control over their land and natural resources since it is an issue of limiting the villagers to this option only. People may want to go for the issue of equity shares in the company rather than share a little percentage of the royalty with the state of Nagaland as has happened in many cases in the past over the exploitation of land and its natural resources in Nagaland.
The tribal bodies concluded that not taking the above into consideration was tantamount to undermining the rights of the people and to seriously consider the implications of the Act passed in the assembly so as to secure a sustainable future for the Nagas.
CCFM says ‘inappropriate’
Concerned Citizens Forum Mokokchung (CCFM) termed the proposed consultative meet as “shocking and inappropriate” to the present situation when the “Indo-Naga political dialogue” was at such a crucial juncture.
It said proposed exercise on land and its resources would be detrimental for negotiators to have an honorable settlement when land becomes a state subject.
Observing that land was of prime importance for the identity of the Nagas, the CCFM convenor T. Tsupong Longchar said no government had the moral and legal right to take it away from the people.

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