Nagaland’s black gold

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/25/2021 1:09:43 PM IST

 Minister Petroleum, Natural Gas and Steel Dharmedra Pradhan has disclosed that the Modi government, after coming to power in 2014, has set its sight on tremendous potential of the north east for oil and gas exploration and production.Supplementing him, the joint secretary in the minister Amar Nath said the government has decided to fast track completion of all projects including those that have been stalled, by 2024. What the minister and the joint secretary had stated in an interview to a news agency, holds much promise for a turnaround of the economy of the north east and in particular Nagaland. It may be pointed out that Nagaland has an estimated reserve of around 650 million tonnes of crude oil and gas that could transform the state and bring enormous dividends to its economic growth. Moreover, the state has 315 million tonnes of coal reserves and 1,038 million tonnes of limestone reserves. Of interest is the issue at Changpang and Tssori in Wokha district which have a proven reserve of more than 50 million tonnes of crude oil. The other reserves estimated at nearly 600 million tonnes at Mokokchung (Changki),Mon(Singphan) and Peren districts to name a few, which could benefit the state and its people for the next several decades in terms of revenue. After the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation(ONGC)had to stop its operations owing to threats during 1994,oil explorations in Nagaland have been totally suspended. The oil wells remain uncapped and a lot of crude is being spilled causing huge losses in terms of revenue as well as environmental hazards. ONGC faced opposition for various reasons but the main objection was over the rights of ownership of land and resources as per Article 371 A of the constitution, which safeguards the claims of traditional ownership of the Nagas. This issue was sought to be overcome by the then DAN-II government in 2012 when it framed and passed the Nagaland Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulations and Rules 2012 through which, the state government set up the NPNG Board to monitor all activities related to oil and natural gas mining. However, the NPNG Rules 2012 hit a road block on two fronts- from the UPA-2 government and various tribal hohos namely the Loth Hoho. The ministry of petroleum in 2014 had on June 8,2013 written to the state government to rescind the NPNG Rules 2012 as Article 371(A) did not provide powers to the state assembly to frame its own laws “ to regular and develop mineral oil”. In a clear reference to NPNG Rules 2012, the union home ministry, further made it clear that power to make law in respect of subjects covered under List-1 of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution of India was vested with the Centre. The Lotha Hoho also filed a PIL in the Gauhati High Court principal bench over the controversial February 28,2014 Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) signed between the state government and the newly formed Metropolitan Oil and Gas Private Limited(MOGPL). According to reports, MOGPL did not have any experience in the field. In the light of the statements by the union minister of petroleum and the official, it remains to be seen whether the Modi government will reiterate the stand taken by the previous UPA-2 or adopt a different stand as the state is ruled by a coalition where BJP is a major partner.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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