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NLA resolution vis-à-vis ONGC
Spl. Report DIMAPUR, JUL 3 (NPN):
Published on 4 Jul. 2011 12:50 AM IST
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With the government of India giving the nod to the July 26,2010 resolution of the Nagaland assembly wherein the term in Article 371(A) “land and its resources” would include mineral oil and its resources and that no act of parliament will apply to “ownership and transfer of land and its resources” including mineral oil; the stage is set for the government of Nagaland in framing guidelines for the Memorandum of Understanding to be signed with oil companies for oil operations in the state.
The MoU assumes significance in the light of the ONGC experience which commenced oil exploration during 1971 after which oil was struck in 1973 though actual operations began as early as 1963 without Petroleum Exploration License (PEL).
Production of oil commenced since March 28,1981hower, without Petroleum Mining License for which the state suspended operations on May 17,1991 with the condition that ONGC will abide by whatever agreement the state and centre arrived at and with retrospective effect.
Finally total operations by ONGC at various locations in the state were completely stopped on May 5, 1994.
It is learnt that the Nagaland Assembly resolution has sent ripples of apprehension in the ONGC.
With the state in dire need of revenue to boost up economic development, oil exploration and exploitation assumes added importance in the light of financial problems plaguing the state.
Till the July 26, 2010 assembly resolution, oil operations in Nagaland were largely seen to rest with the various interpretations of Article 371(A) which led to a state of confusion.
With the government of India giving the nod to the state government to enact and frame its own laws, the balance in favour of the ONGC, a public sector giant and also a global player has somewhat shifted away and leveled the field for other less known companies to make bids.
Even if ONGC may not have a dominant advantage, yet it cannot be totally ruled out due to its awesome array of know-how, equipments including an army of engineers and established locations in the north east, which no other private oil company comes even near.
ONGC being a government of India undertaking also has commitment on development of areas where it operates and an impressive record of social action programmes.
On the flip side, the perception of the ONGC in Nagaland is none too commendable largely due to the fact that it has chosen to remain distant from the people in whose area it wants to operate.
In fact, ONGC, to Nagas, is often seen as a department under the government of Assam; which arouses suspicion particularly when viewed from its activities in the disputed border areas.

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