Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Energy (Power): The prime mover for development and growth of Nagaland economy

In reiteration to an article titled “Can the Naga economy be energy independent…” that was published in your esteemed local daily during the 4th week of April,2022, yours truly wishes to some more basic energy facts which deserves the attention of all concerned. This writeup is intended to generate awareness on why Nagaland needs an urgent reliable and consistent energy supply source more than ever.
Energy derived in whatever form (be it hydro, solar, thermal, wind, or fossil fuel) has undeniably become a necessity for everyone’s survival irrespective of rural or urban dwelling. Everybody needs energy services to run and operate their enterprise, institutions, businesses, and their own homes. Services in the form of access to internet, mobile phones, computers, operating gadgets, machines, and appliances to run our homes, transportation and commuting from one place to the other etc are all dependent on a constant energy supply source. Energy has become the lifeline for sustaining individual economic activities to generate income and provide a decent livelihood for every family. Without electricity and fuel, nothing seems to move forward.
Energy power will continue to be the engine to drive economic growth and progress in the days to come. However, going by past and present trend, Nagaland is still dependent (and will continue to be so) on other states for supply of basic energy needs in the form of electricity, fuel, and cooking gas.
Of late with numerous entrepreneurial initiatives and investments pumped into the state for transforming Nagaland into local organic product hubs, the moot point is…in the absence of a stable energy source, how are these initiatives going to sustain? Can we move towards the path of holistic economic development and create a secure future for the 22.8 lakh people in the state riddled with unemployment at its peak. The present generation ought to ponder hard on the precarious scenario we are all placed in today.
Even after 50 years of statehood, the Nagas have not been able to make much headway to harness energy independence. Statistics reveal that Nagaland requires more than 400 MW which is further expected to reach 550 MW by 2025. As of now, Nagaland government buys energy (electricity) from other states (aprox Rs 400 Crores worth). We are left at the mercy of the sellers and suppliers since we do not have any control over it. We do not have the liberty to choose and have to be contended with whatever comes in (whether erratic or no supply). In the event of supply line being cut, we go nowhere. Business enterprises, establishments and institutions will come to a halt as they will not be able to operate. Communication & transportation will come to a halt. Local enterprises which rely on electricity, fuel and gas will come to a standstill. Therefore, it is critical to appreciate and understand the energy scenario and challenges we are faced with today.
Given this background, choosing to produce our own energy from within Nagaland seems to be a more justified, logical, and economically viable choice at this point in time. Reason being, geologically Nagaland sits on the prolific Assam-Arakan (AA) Basin within the Naga-Schuppen Oil Belt which is considered a main source for feeding the oil & gas fields in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. However, to identify the potential reserves and share of resources underground, Nagaland Government must make urgent efforts to resume oil exploration activities at the earliest.
Besides a few square Kms of seismic survey carried out in Wokha and Chumukedima areas, the major portion of Nagaland remains devoid of any scientific and systematic geological & geophysical (G&G) studies. The scope for hydrocarbon exploration and production in Nagaland (which has been lying dormant for almost 30 years now) is an opportunity at hand. Going by what is emerging in the energy sector of neighbouring countries, crude oil will slowly lose its value and worth because nations are going for alternate sources of energy. It is high time the Nagas wake up and make hay while the sun shines. Nagas can produce their own energy and be energy independent instead of having to rely on others. We need to change our mindsets and viewpoint to see the future from a different perspective.
Economic independence will depend a lot on the stability and consistency of energy supply within the State. The energy potential in Nagaland is huge provided we grab this opportunity with an open mind and genuine concern for the present and our future kin. If at all we need energy for economic growth; it is now. Not later. As for now, we can only continue to sit and watch as our next-door neighbour continue to extract the black liquid gold that we too could have been part of!!
Meyabi A.Niphi
(The Author is a concerned Naga campaigning for early resumption of oil exploration activities in Nagaland in order to tide over unemployment and reduce energy dependency from other States. He works for a National Oil Company (NOC)

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