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ONGC to stop oil spillage at Changpang
Staff Reporter Dimapur, Jan 6 (NPN):
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Published on 7 Jan. 2011 12:34 AM IST
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After over sixteen years of neglect, the oil spillages from the abandoned oil wells at Changpang in Wokha district, appear to be finally going to be capped by the Oil and Natural Gas Commission(ONGC) following the Nagaland government’s nod.
One ONGC official clarified that reports that it would resume oil operations in Nagaland was not based on facts since the repair and capping was only to stop further oil spills at Changpang area.
The official disclosed that oil activities could only resume after the ONGC and the Nagaland government signed the MoU that is expected to be inked.
A high level ministerial team headed by home minister Imkong L.Imchen, parliamentary secretaries W. Kithan and Y. Patton, along with other officials are expected to visit the site on Saturday to coordinate the exercise with the team of ONGC engineers.
After ONGC suspended operational activities at Changpang in May 1994 as per directives of the state government, the oil from the capped wells have been seeping out, causing not only environmental disaster but also potent threat of a catastrophic incident in case any of the wells catch fire. Though the ONGC has adopted precautionary measures by sealing and subduing all oil wells, it could not undertake any supervision of the wells owing to the situation prevailing after the NSF virtually hounded it out of Nagaland.
ONGC sources said the commission could not undertake any maintenance and tampering of the production equipments which had to be abandoned at the well sites, thus letting oil seep out. It was also reported, that crude oil from Changpang were being pilfered by some persons and sold to nearby tea gardens.
The source said that ONGC had been taking up the matter with the state government on several occasions such as the November 1, 2007 meeting with the chief minister to address the issue once it is permitted to resume oil operations in Nagaland.
ONGC again raised the issue at a meeting with the Nagaland Development Commissioner on January 31, 2008 and also to sign the MoU for resumption of oil activities.
The following month, on February 21, 2008 ONGC again wrote to the state additional chief secretary seeking a way forward to the issue by providing security to the ONGC engineers so as to repair and cap the seepages.
Nagaland is sitting on top of black gold in the form of crude oil, whose reserves is estimated at 600 million tones, located at various oil basins, with the Changpang oil basin believed to be holding the biggest and best reserve.
Owing to the assertion of Art.371 (A) of the Indian constitution, which safeguards the customary laws and tradition and ownership of land and its resources, oil exploration in Nagaland has grounded to a halt.
A state government official expressed dismay that time was running out as thousands of tones of crude from the border areas, was being extracted in Assam. The state government wants to extract oil but is unable to move forward on the issue of the MoU. The official opined that as the government represents the people constitutionally and responsible for their welfare and not NGOs or tribal organizations, it is the only agency on behalf of the people, which can sign the MoU

 
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