Friday, March 24, 2023

Central Nagaland Tribes Council interact with Lotha CSOs on oil, foothill road and Naga political issue

A week after it reminded chief minister Neiphiu Rio about its demands for resumption of oil exploration and extraction in Nagaland, the Central Nagaland Tribes Council (CNTC) held meetings with various Lotha organisations, including Lotha Hoho, and discussed three points – exploration of oil in Nagaland, Foothill Road and Naga solution.
CNTC media cell said that the council held a consultative meeting with Lotha Hoho (LH) at Wokha on June 29, followed by meetings with Lotha Lower Range Public Organisation (LLRPO), Bhandari Town Council, Lower Range Officers’ Union, Lower Range GB Association, Bhandari Town Women Hoho, Yamhon Area Public Organisation (YAPO) and Bhandari Town Students’ Union. Thereafter, meetings were also held with Changpang oilfield owners in the presence of LLPRO, Lotha Hoho, Changpang Village Council and Tssori Old members on June 30.

Apart from meetings, CNTC along with the above-mentioned organisations also visited Chanpang oilfield to father first-hand information on the problems faced by oil bearing landowners.
During the course of meetings, CNTC president T Lanu Imchen said Lothas in particular were losing out due to non-exploration of oil from their land. Since the council could only act as pressure group for resumption of oil operations, he advised the oil-bearing villages of Chanpang and Tssori, being the first villages in Nagaland to have oil production, that whatever modalities were agreed upon should be beneficial to all Nagas.
CNTC general secretary Tsungrosan Kithan gave a brief account on the oil issue and reminded the landowners that there would always be differences of opinion, but there would be always a way out of the situation.
He said Lotha Hoho had filed a PIL against the regulation of Oil Act by the State government keeping in mind the rights of landowners in particular and Nagas as a whole. In this regard, he requested the landowners to be aware of the content of the tripartite talks.

Highlighting the recent interaction of the council with general manager of Oil India Limited (OIL), Kithan said the PIL filed by LH was squashed by the court, while the next hearing on the suo moto case would be taken up by the court soon.
CNTC vice-president Hukiye was of the view that the council had gained more recognition after the recent meet at Wokha hosted by LH on oil exploration. He wondered why the State government was prolonging the oil extraction and encouraged all three apex tribal hohos under CNTC to supplement any demand by the council to give more weight to the demand.
LH chairman Mhondamo Ovung, who chaired the consultative meeting at Wokha, referred to the PIL filed by the hoho in 2018 and said the PIL had already been withdrawn after a written assurance by the State government to amend some rules and regulations of the Nagaland Petroleum and Natural Gas Rules.
At the interactive session, Oil Bearing Union of Tssori and Changpang chairman John Kikon thanked CNTC for the visit and requested the council to ponder over Article 371 (A) and on the way forward to utilise the Article for the benefits of Nagas. He also requested CNTC and civil society organisations (CSOs) for pressuring the government and other parties involved for the resumption of oil exploration and extraction, while informing the House on the tripartite negotiation involving the Centre, Government of Nagaland and Government of Assam.
Kikon said since the closure of oil extraction in 1994, no NGO and CSO nor even the government had taken up any remedial measures to date to contain oil spills that posed serious environment risks.
He claimed that landowners were never compensated for the oil bearing areas that had been sealed since the closure of oil extraction. He demanded that all Nagas should be consulted for negotiations on oil royalty as Changpang and Tssori were not the sole oil-bearing areas in Nagaland.
Earlier, at the interactive meeting between CNTC and Chanpang Oil Field Owners, chairman Changpang ONGC, Nzanbemo Yanthan informed the House that altogether 31 oil wells were drilled by ONGC and out of which 21 wells were oil-bearing and two were gas-bearing. He said ONGC was doing horizontal deviation, alleging that all land encroachments by Assam had taken place after the discovery of oil in Changpang and Tssori areas.
Foothill Road: Meanwhile, on the Foothill Road, the CNTC president highlighted the recent amount sanctioned by the State government and said maintenance was stopped for the time being owing to unsuitable weather conditions, but would resume when the weather became favourable.
He said most of the stretch of the road fell under Wokha district and hence Lothas had more to gain from the road project.

Naga political issue: On the present Naga political scenario, CNTC and LH decided to reaffirm the resolution of 14 Naga Tribes that no tribal hoho should meet any Naga political group (NPG) on its own on the Naga political issue but jointly by all the 14 Naga tribes.
The LH chairman suggested that issues related to Nagas should be initiated and decided by CNTC on behalf of the three tribes – the Lothas, Aos and Sumis.
The CNTC president lamented over the exorbitant taxes levied on their own people by various NPGs taking advantage of the prolonged peace process. He stressed that the Central government and the negotiating NPGs should sign the final solution at the earliest.
At the interactive meeting between CNTC and LLRPO, including various organizations, the CNTC president explained the formation and purpose of the council, while stressing on the unity of the three tribes.
The CNTC vice-president focussed on the council’s participation in the consultation called by the State government on issues such as Naga political issue, RIIN, ULB, NLTP Act, etc.
On his part, cultural secretary Ekon Ezung explained that the purpose of CNTC’s visit to Lotha areas was to see the ground reality of development.
LLRPO president thanked CNTC for visiting Bhandari area and assured full cooperation to the council in the future. The members also called on ADC Bhandari after the meeting.


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