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Nagaland

Centre upholds Article 371 (A)

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By EMN Updated: Jul 31, 2013 12:35 am
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[tabs type=”horizontal”][tabs_head][tab_title]Article 371(A)[/tab_title][/tabs_head][tab]State Govt had no intentions to antagonize Centre, but to go by the constitutional provisions of the Article 371(A)[/tab][/tabs]

EMN
Dimapur JULY 30

A storm building up over the Centre’s interpretation of Article 371 (A) in the Indian Constitution in connection with the extraction of oil and mineral resources in Nagaland seems to have blown over. Clause iv of the article provides constitutional rights to Nagas over “ownership of land and its resources”, unlike any other state in the country.The Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dr. Veerappa Moily said the Centre will abide by the Constitution concerning the exploration, production and post production of oil and natural gas in the State.
He said this to a visiting team of Cabinet Ministers from Nagaland, namely the Minister of Geology & Mining T R Zeliang and Minister of Forests and Border Affairs Y Patton.
The Ministers also delivered a letter from the Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio clarifying the recent resolution in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, that Article 371(A) is applicable to the subject of oil and mineral resources of the state.
Dr. Moily was also given a detailed background on the sequence of events from 1963 onwards that led to the three suspensions of oil exploration and finally the constitution of the Cabinet Sub-Committee.
TR Zeliang also conveyed to the Union Minister that the State Government had no intentions to antagonize the Centre, but intends to go by the constitutional provisions of the Article 371(A). He assured the Union Minister that Nagaland will play its role within the State and Centre should play its role once the oil and natural gas are produced and ready to be exported outside the State.
Oil exploration in the state began when the people were not apprised of the value of oil and natural gas and ONGC started exploration since 1962 to 1971 without the consent of the landowners and the State Government. In 1973, ONGC was permitted with PEL under Central Acts and started producing oil in Changpang from 1981 with trial production permit, till its suspension in 1994.
In 2009 the Government constituted a Cabinet Sub Committee and the proposed resolution was passed on July 26, 2010 reiterating Article 371(A), to frame the rules and regulations for exploration, production and post production on oil and natural gas.
Minister TR Zeliang also explained the peculiar land holding system in the State and anything to do with the land and its resources cannot be taken forward without the involvement of land owners and the tribal Hohos as per customary practices.
Subsequently, the regulation was passed in 2012 and rules were placed in the State Assembly in March 2013. The EOI was advertised in national and regional dailies and are in the process of selection of companies to issue permits for exploration and production as per the new rules and regulations. The Resolution clearly spells out that all the previous acts stand cancelled and the new modalities be framed.
After the briefing, the Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas assured that the Centre and the State will abide by the Constitution and in case of any misunderstanding(s) would be sorted out soon. He will soon be holding a joint meeting of the Minister of Home Affairs and Law and Justice, to sort out the matters.

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By EMN Updated: Jul 31, 2013 12:35:02 am