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Sub-committee visits Changpang, inspects spillage sites; meets locals on resumption of oil operation

The Cabinet Sub-Committee members and officials led by TR Zeliang at one the oil spillage site at Chanpang oilfield on Saturday. (NP)
Staff Reporter Chanpang (Oilfields), Jan 8 (NPN):
Published on 9 Jan. 2011 12:02 AM IST
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A high-level team of the state Cabinet Sub-Committee for Oil and Natural Resource Exploration led by its Convenor T.R.Zeliang, minister of planning, parliamentary affairs, veterinary & animal husbandry inspected 21 oil points at Changpang and Tssori oil field Saturday, to take stock of the situation arising out of oil spillage from oil wells abandoned by the ONGC in 1994 and also to interact with the people over the issue of resumption of oil exploration as prelude to preparation of the MoU.
Those who also visited the sites include- Dr. Chumben Murry, minister for agriculture; Doshehe Y.Sema minister for power; Yanthungo Patton, parliamentary secretary for geology and mining, irrigation and flood control; deputy speaker, Ralanthung Yanthan; Er. W. Kithan, parliamentary secretary for prison and home guard; Dako Phom, parliamentary secretary for transport and communication and member secretary H.K Khulu, APC.
The objective of the visit was to assess the current state situation of the oilfields and also to work out modalities for revival of Chanpang oilfields which were abandoned since May 11 1994. The team visited all major oil points especially areas affected by oil spill along with administrative and department heads of Wokha district.
At a meeting in Changpang village, Convenor of the Cabinet Sub-Committee, T.R Zeliang, minister for planning and explained that the purpose of the visit was to work out modalities for resumption of oil operations, keeping in mind the welfare of the land owners and the people of Nagaland.
Zeliang told the villagers that the discord between landowners and the state government was a stumbling block towards exploring available natural resources adding that such misunderstandings needed to be resolved.
He pointed that there were mistakes made earlier as far back as in 1963, when talks for exploration took place without framing proper modalities and Petroleum Exploration License (PEL).
Zeliang admitted that the basic foundation by the previous governments as well as the present government for extraction of available natural resources in the area was wrong and made without keeping in mind the after effects. He pointed out that the current impasse arose due to such unclear and incorrect modalities.
He said the task before the Cabinet Sub-Committee was to set up uniform modalities in Nagaland to rectify past mistakes and to plug any lacunae.
Zeliang said that trial exploration given to ONGC to extract crude was only for 18 kiloliters but that instead it extracted millions of tones of crude without permit.
He called upon the people of the area to extend cooperation with the state government’s effort to prepare correct modalities in order to prevent further delay in the resumption of oil exploration and extraction.
He also urged upon the department of geology and mining as well as the local people not to bypass the state government by inviting different companies for oil operations
Er. Wochumo Kithan, parliamentary secretary for prison and home guards appealed to the local people not put hurdles for resumption of oil operations but to extend cooperation with the government so as to being about an acceptable solution to both parties.
Submitting a memorandum to the government, the Lotha Lower Range Public Organization (LLRPO) president Yingashumo Kithan pressed the government to address the immediate need on the issue of spillage of crude oil and its consequent danger posed. LLRO also wanted that efforts be made to revive extraction of crude oil by entrusting it to any oil company at the earliest. It also wanted that any agreement should be done in consultation and approval of the MLAs of the district and that a specific time frame be given for revival of oil fields (wells) and assurances of benefits to the landowners and the people of the area.
Expressing concern over the missing X-mass valves at the oil sites, Y. Patton, parliamentary secretary for geology and mining, irrigation and flood control urged the people to look after the oil points and asked the district administration and the landowners to safeguard the oil pipes at the sites. He also disclosed that the department of geology and mining would submit a project to the government for construction of security walls around all the 21 oil points.
Patton also urged upon the Wokha district administration to inspect the BSNL tower built in the middle of the road which was completely blocking the way to the main oil point where major oil spillage was taking place.
Doshehe, minister of power said oil spillage caused non-equilibrium in the eco-existence of both humans and the eco system which the ONGC should take up remedial measures to restore the eco-system which existed prior to exploration of oil and natural gas at Chanpang and Tssori area.
Others who spoke at the meeting were president Chanpang landowners union, Chanpang Students’ Union, Head GB Old Tssori and N.M. Kithan a senior citizen of the area.
It may mentioned that the 12 sq km oil field area first started crude oil exploration in the year 1963 and the first oil was struck at BRC-1/CN-1 oil field in 1973 which was inaugurated by the then chief minister J.B Jasokie.
Till May 11 1994, 21 oilfields and two gas fields were in operation till closure of the Chanpang oil fields by NSF, undergrounds and landowners.
Changpang villagers want demands fulfilled
Former Chanpang village council members and some land owners interacting with this reporter on the sideline of the cabinet sub-committee’s visit to Chanpang oilfields disclosed that Chanpang land owners had submitted an 11-point charter of demands to the state government on January 26,2010 to resolve the present controversy.
Among the demands included: payment of a 2 percent tax on the value of each metric ton of crude extracted to the land owners; construction of an oil refinery in Lotha area/Naga area and providing employment to the educated youths; providing amenities to the people of the area and oil and natural gas being extracted should be branded as either Nagaland oil or Chanpang oil etc.
Interestingly, the former council members said that after the village council was dissolved in September 8, 2007, the people of Changpang were deprived of any say on the matter.
They also alleged the state government had not done anything despite assurance given to the people in the last meeting.
The landowners set a condition, that any developmental work would be allowed only after their charter of demands were met.

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