Nagaland losing INR 1825 cr. annually over non utilisation of oil resources — Lok Sabha MP
Dimapur, Sep. 15 (EMN): Nagaland’s lone Lok Sabha MP, Tokheho Yepthomi has said that Nagas will continue to be dependent on the Centre unless the state government and the people are “flexible with the issue of Article 371 (A)” and make use of oil resources available in the state.
In a press release, the MP lamented that the state is still heavily dependent on the Centre’s fund even 58 years of statehood, unable to meet economic requirements for development activities even with90:10 ratio of central and state share of fund.
“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 land owner issues has cost our state dearly,” he stated.
Yepthomi reminded that the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) was given permission for survey and investigation in 1973 and the state government was given oil royalty of INR 33.3 crore between 1981 and 1994.
“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 oil fields of which 27 are operational,” he informed.
Barring three oil fields, the remaining 36 are “between Assam and Nagaland border”, he informed, adding that “even within Nagaland, the ONGC continued to explore oil at Pihekhu, Tokishe and Nikihe under Niuland Sub-division. Drilling has already commenced at Karbianglong areas which are parallel to Dhansripar sub-division and Peren district”.
The MP stated that Nagaland is losing approximately INR 5 crore daily or INR 1825 crore annually, while Assam had earned INR 17,995.83 crore in the last 10 years, collecting INR 1337.38 crore in 2020-21 alone.
He said that the state has chosen to forego its abundant natural resources. He also stressed on the need to be flexible with the issue of Article 371 (A) for development.
“It is 58 years since our state was created and it has only proven that Nagaland state cannot 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,” he stated.
Citing India’s interest in clean renewable energy over fossil fuels, he is of the opinion that “Nagaland’s oil resources will count for nothing when clean renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels in the very near future”.