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Opposition to oil, gas drill

Kohima, Sept. 18: The Nagaland government’s approval to a draft proposal to allow petroleum and gas exploration in the state has run into a protest wall with a few organisations as well as militant outfits opposing the idea till their demands were fulfilled.

The militant groups have said they would not allow oil extraction in the state without their approval.

The state government is expected to present the draft proposal during the monsoon session of the Assembly.

The organisations from Wokha district said they would not allow exploration and exploitation of petroleum and natural gas within their jurisdiction.

Wokha district has the highest concentration of petroleum and natural gas.

The draft will be tabled in the Assembly on September 21 and 22 for adoption in the Nagaland Petroleum and Natural Gas Resolution 2012.

The Land Owners’ Union of Changpang, Wokha, said it would be a futile exercise, as they would not allow anyone to explore and extract petroleum and natural gas within its jurisdiction.

The association said the government was responsible for governance but was not an absolute owner of lands as in case of Nagaland under Article 371A of the Constitution.

According to this article, land and its resources belong to the people.

The president of the association, Mhao Odyuo, demanded that while formulating laws with regard to land and its resources, the consent of the tribal Hohos and organisations should be taken into consideration.

According to the cabinet’s latest decision, there has been a direct 2 per cent cut — from 6 per cent to 4 per cent — from the landowners’ share.

The ONGC had stopped its activities since 1994 because of opposition from Naga organisations and militants.

Till then, the oil fields have been left unattended, causing massive environmental hazards.

The landowners have also demanded compensation to the damages caused by oil spillage in Changpang oil block and Old Tssori village.

Health problems in the district have increased significantly in Changpang and Tssori since the spillage, with higher rates of waterborne diseases, malnutrition, miscarriages, cancer, kidney failure and nerve problems.

The organisations from Wokha district have also demanded that the state government should take into account the consent of the landowners.The Naga Students’ Federation has also suggested that landowners be taken into confidence.

The president of the federation, Kelhouneizo Yhome, said they would support some of the demands of the landowners.

The federation has also constituted a committee to break the impasse.

However, the government said the demands of the landowners were unreasonable.