PDA govt. responsive, sensitive to people: Kikon

DIMAPUR, MAY 8 (NPN) | Publish Date: 5/8/2019 11:52:53 AM IST

Information Technology (IT) adviser Mmhonlumo Kikon claimed that the PDA is a responsive government that is sensitive to the needs of people and assured that it will attempt to provide good governance as per the people’s expectations.

Speaking at the introductory session of 28th General Conference of Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) at Bhandari town in Wokha district on Wednesday, Kikon cited the instance of redressing the grievance of Lotha Students’ Union (LSU) regarding Nagaland Petroleum and Natural Gas (NPNG) Rules by the PDA as proof in this regard. This, he said, led to withdrawal of the case filed by LSU on the issue.  Whereas LSU wanted rights of indigenous people to be protected and included in NPNG Rules, the organisation was deliberately ignored, thus compelling it to go to the court to secure rights, he recalled. 

Kikon emphasised that rights are political constructs that do not necessarily reflect inherent indigenous responsibilities to their lands and resources. Additionally, the rights discourse compartmentalises indigenous self-determination by separating questions of governance and community well-being from villages/lands and relationships to the environment, he added. 

In this context, he said indigenous rights can be re-articulated as part of a sustainable and community based process rather than solely as narrowly constructed political or legal entitlements. When indigenous revitalization is discussed solely in terms of strategies, rights, and theories, they overlook the everyday practices of resurgence and decolonisation, he pointed out.  The IT adviser explained that Lothas are proud of LSU for various reasons, but the most important being the stand it had taken to uphold the position of NSF on the issue of oil exploration at Changpang and Tssori villages in Wokha district. In 1994, he said NSF had led the movement for a rights-based approach to develop oil and natural gas resources being explored by ONGC that led to closure of the entire exploration. And according to him, the reasons were simple – rights of landowners were not respected as ONGC continued to explore beyond the agreed terms and the benefits accrued were not shared substantially by the State government with the people.  Kikon recalled that the State government in 2014 went ahead in issuing permit to explore despite legitimate and peaceful overtures by LSU for a meaningful dialogue on NPNG Rules. He, however, regretted that the then government’s response was brutal as it refused any dialogue and decided to award the permit to a company with little or no experience to go for exploration and exploitation of the oil resource.  Mentioning that LSU protested against the inauguration and launching of the exploration at Changpang village, thus upholding the visionary position of NSF, Kikon reminded the gathering that the protest was met with lathi charge and curfews. 

“Therefore, it is only appropriate and vital that the gathering here will be visiting the oilfields at Changpang as a process of reclamation and restoration of our rights and to further reinforce the theme for a just future of the Nagas,” he remarked. Kikon said the oil issue reminds the people of similar issues raised in other Naga areas and how the people have risen to balance development and their rights. 

“Look at Chromite mining and Mapithel dam in Ukhrul District. Any review of both these issues leads us to the same questions all over and over again. Have the rights of the people been respected and have they been allowed to determine for themselves in which way development should take place? How has the apex bodies of Nagas responded to these issues? Have they been able to secure and articulate the rights of people that they must represent? Or have there been collusions of various agencies to deprive the right to development of the people?” he wondered. Welcoming delegates of the conference to Bhandari town, he wished the conference a success.



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