State

GoN agrees to review oil deal

Staff Reporter DIMAPUR, DEC 15 (NPN) | Publish Date: 12/15/2018 12:06:22 PM IST

Around six years since the Nagaland Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulations and Rules 2012 was enacted by the legislative assembly and around three years since the Gauhati High Court, Kohima Bench issued stay order against permit issued to Metropolitan Oil and Gas Private Limited (MOGPL) on a PIL filed by the Lotha Hoho, both state government (NPNG Board) and the Lotha Hoho appeared to have agreed to resolve contentious issues.

In this regard, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on November 20, 2018 between Lotha Hoho and Nagaland government represented by the NPNG board with certain terms and conditions to amend the Nagaland Petroleum and Natural Gas (NPNG) Regulations & Rules, 2012.

As per the NPNG Regulations and Rules 2012, the state government set up the NPNG Board to monitor all activities related to oil and natural gas mining. 

The NPNG regulations stipulated a three-level committee: the first comprising state ministers; the second with senior bureaucrats; and the third with junior government officers, advisers and others.

The issues raised in the PIL involved the controversial firm Metropolitan Oil and Gas Private Limited which bagged the lucrative oil zones in Wokha district. Other issues also included the fixing of 8% royalty in addition to other excise tax by the state government on the plea of sharing the revenue with non-oil bearing districts.

The High court viewed that the source of power of the impugned permit in favour of MOGPL as “highly questionable, both legally and constitutionally and for which it felt, that the effect and operation of the said permit be kept in abeyance till the case was decided.

After observing several inconsistencies in the processing of permit for MOGPL, the therefore on October 18, 2015 stayed the impugned permit issued on February 28, 2014 till further orders.

Since then the state government has been trying to resolve the matter with Lotha Hoho but as there was no meeting point, the efforts proved futile.

After a series of meetings and the most recent being the one held on June 6, 2018 in the conference hall of the chief secretary, the two sides along with other tribe stake holders– Ao Senden, Chakhro Public Organisation, Konyak Union, Phom People’s Council, Rengma Hoho, Western Sumi Hoho and Zeliangrong Baudi- agreed that the NPNG Regulations and Rules 2012 will be amended by the state government.

The issue of the state issuing oil exploration license was also objected to by the government of India as the oil and natural gas came under Entry 53 under List I over which parliament had supremacy to frame laws and states had no overriding authority.

Lotha Hoho-Govt sign MoU to clear decks for oil  ops

The terms and conditions as per the MoU signed between the state government represented by the NPNG Board and Lotha Hoho are as follows:

(i) The final draft of the amended NPNG Regulations & Rules shall be printed and produced to the Lotha Hoho, within 1 (one) month after signing this MOU. On receipt of the amended NPNG Regulations & Rules, 2012, the Petitioner shall acknowledge receipt of it and if satisfied, shall give Written Acceptance letter to the NPNG Board. But if not satisfied shall seek for corrections wherever needed.

(ii) The NP&NG Board shall take the initiative to expedite the process of amendment of the NPNG Regulations & Rules, 2012, as per the demands of the petitioner and as per decisions arrived at in the Consultative meetings of the two parties. The process of amendment shall be completed within 6 (six) months, after withdrawal of the PIL.

(iii) With execution of the MoU the Lotha Hoho shall withdraw the PIL. However, the Lotha Hoho shall have the liberty to revive the PIL as per clause (v) of this MoU.

(iv) The amended NPNG Regulations & Rules 2012 shall be printed and produced to the Lotha Hoho within 1 (one) month after passing by the Nagaland Legislative Assembly. On receipt of the amended NPNG Regulations & Rules 2012, the petitioner shall acknowledge receipt of it and if satisfied, shall give Written Acceptance letter to the NPNG Board.

(v) If the amendment process is not completed within the stipulated period or if the Amendment is found to have been done not according to the mutually agreed decisions, the Petitioner shall have the liberty to revive the PIL petition in the Court of Law.

(vi) Pending amendment of the NPNG Regulations & Rules 2012 by the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, the State Govt. shall keep on hold the permit issued to MOGPL or any other such company even if the PIL is withdrawn.

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