Suggests “more flexible approach to Article 371 (A)”
DIMAPUR, SEPTEMBER 15: Lok Sabha Member of Parliament (MP), Tokheho Yepthomi has blamed the people of Nagaland for the revenue crunch the State is facing and suggested a more flexible approach to Article 371 (A), considering the potential to extract the State’s oil reserve.
In a statement titled, ‘Nagaland’s revenue crunch is attributed to its people’, the Lok Sabha MP said that 58 years since Statehood, Nagaland is still heavily dependent on funds from Central assistance.
“Even with a 90:10 ratio of Central and State share we are still unable to meet our economic requirements for development activities. We need to take cognizance of the merits and demerits of Article 371 (A), which has been both a boon and bane for development activities in our State. The energy sector is perhaps the largest contributor to the deficit in our State budget. Our State has numerous avenues to harness energy for generation of electricity but the hindrances created due to landowner issues have cost our State dearly”, the statement read.
Tokheho pointed out that the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) was given permission in 1973 to conduct survey and investigation in the State.
In between 1981 to 1994, he said, Nagaland Government was given oil royalty of Rs 33.3 crore.
“Drilling sites at Changpang, Hozukhe on the bank of Zubza River, Khopanala and Toshezu were done and ready for extraction. Sadly, the infrastructure and seamless pipes, which were created by the ONGC, were destroyed and stolen on the ground that oil and its resources would be utilised after getting sovereignty, and to enforce Article 371 (A). Whilst we stopped extraction of oil owing to various reasons, the ONGC has continued drilling in Assam and has already completed 39 oilfields, of which 27 are operational”, he added.
The MP further pointed out that Geleki, Khoraghat, Nambar, Kasomarigaon, Suphyam, Dayalpur, Barholla and Mekrang oil fields are within the Assam-Nagaland border but the royalty for these are being collected only by the State of Assam.
Of the listed 39 oilfields, Changlang and Khasam are between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh; and Churamchanpur is between Assam and Manipur, he said.
“Barring the 3 oilfields, the remaining 36 oilfields are between Assam and Nagaland border. Even within Nagaland, the ONGC continued to explore oil at Pihekhu, Tokishe and Nikihe, under Niuland Sub-Division. Drilling has already commenced at Karbi Anglong areas which are parallel to Dhansripar Sub-Division and Peren District. The Government of Assam has collected Rs 17995.83 crore in the last 10 years, from 2011-2021.
“Nagaland is losing approximately Rs 5 crore daily or Rs 1825 crore annually. The Government of India is spending a colossal amount on oil imports which amounts to $111.9 billion or Rs 8247085950000 crore for 2018-19 and $101.4 billion or Rs 7472409360000 crore for 2019-20. India imports 84% of its oil, making it the third largest importer of oil in the world. Therefore, the Government of India is vigorously engaging in domestic oil exploration and extraction”, said the MP.
According to Tokheho, Nagaland has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources but “we are choosing to forego such blessings”.
“Unless the Government of Nagaland and our people are flexible with the issue of Article 371 (A), Nagas will always be dependent on the Central Government for our barest of sustenance. It is 58 years since our State was created and it has only proven that Nagaland State can neither bring oil companies on its own to operate oilfields nor sell a drop of oil as long as were a part of the Indian Union. Lastly, India along with the global economy is moving away from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy. Nagaland’s oil resources will count for nothing when clean renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels in the very near future”, he maintained.
(Page News Service)