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ONGC sets up shop on border

- Oil major starts drilling in disputed area

Uriamghat, June 6: Oil & Natural Gas Commission Ltd (ONGC) setting up shop along the inter-state border with Nagaland in both Jorhat and Golaghat districts has given Assam the muscle to protect its land in the disputed areas, which are constantly under threat of encroachment from across the border.

Upper Assam commissioner S.I. Hussain today said the fact that the Navaratna company would be paying royalty to Assam and not to Nagaland for its work along the border was proof enough that the particular area belonged to the former.

The commissioner was at Uriamghat today to inaugurate drilling activities in a new well of the ONGC at Phuloni village under Dhansiri sub-division in Golaghat district. The site is located on the disputed “B” sector along the Assam-Nagaland border.

The commissioner said Assam was not only getting royalty from the ONGC for carrying out its activities in areas along the border but this had helped Assam consolidate its claim on these areas. “We are thankful to the ONGC for carrying out their activities along the border areas. This has also helped in a big way in the economic development of these backward border areas,” he said.

The oil major has 42 oil wells in both Jorhat and Golaghat districts, which fall under the Jorhat sector of the company, having its headquarters — Assam & Assam-Arakan Basin — in Jorhat.

These 42 wells of the ONGC produce 2 lakh metric tonnes of oil every year and most of these producing wells fall in the disputed B sector along the Assam-Nagaland border.

Jorhat and Golaghat districts together share a 229km border with Nagaland and the two states have been at loggerheads for several decades now over the vexed border dispute.

Hussain, on the other hand, requested the ONGC to involve local villagers in protecting its installations, which would, in turn, make them feel that they are stakeholders in the venture.

ONGC’s basin manager of Assam & Assam-Arakan basin, S.K. Jain, said the company had already spent Rs 15 lakh in the Uriamghat area under its corporate social responsibility schemes and more development activities would be carried out in these areas in coming days.

He said the company was optimistic about its activities in both Jorhat and Golaghat districts and the new well was showing positive signs of producing oil. “The financial fortune of this basin is looking up,” he said.

Jain said ONGC had also been allocated a block to carry out exploration in the disputed “A” sector along the Assam-Nagaland border but it has not been able to carry out any activity in that particular area as neither Assam nor Nagaland had direct control over the land. “We had approached Assam home commissioner Jishnu Baruah in this regard recently but failed to get any positive response,” he said.