Friday, March 24, 2023

Oil exploration: United Naga Tribes Association on Border Areas (UNTABA) mulls legal recourse

United Naga Tribes Association on Border Areas (UNTABA) has claimed that millions and billions of rupees worth of crude oil have been extracted from Naga soil through petroleum and forest products and for which it would “seriously consider” legal action to bring relief and historical rights to Nagas.
UNTABA chairman Hukavi T Yeputhomi and general secretary Imsumongba Pongen acknowledged that this “pertinent issue” had been raised recently by the Central Nagaland Tribes Council (CNTC) on resumption of oil and natural gas exploration and extraction, in consultation with stakeholders.
Appreciating CNTC for coming out strongly for oil exploration and extraction, UNTABA, however, insisted on having clear historical demarcations of the land of the Naga people. It stated that Naga people should get appropriate compensation on the exploitations on natural resources that rightfully belonged to the Naga people.
UNTABA, also expressed dismay at the “indifferent attitude” of the successive state governments in failing to address the issue in its right perspective all these years. It claimed that Nagas have been losing their underground resources and virgin forests for many decades due. UNTABA said this was due to the “inconceivable strategies” of the Government of India and the Government of Assam in undertaking to control the areas of approximately 4,974.16 square miles or an equivalent of 12,883.07 sq kms that rightfully belong to the Naga people.
The association claimed that Digboi Refinery was established on Naga soil and more recently, Numaligargh Refinery.
UNTABA disclosed it had met with Assam minister in charge of border affairs, Atul Borah, on January 26, 2022 in Jorhat, where they appealed for considering the withdrawing the ‘Civil Suit No. 2 of 1988’. It mentioned that the civil Suit was filed by AGP-led government in Assam against the chief election commission of India, ministry of home affairs and Nagaland government. UNTABA said Bora admitted that the case would be a hindrance in solving the border issue.
While appreciating the chief ministers of Assam and Nagaland for agreeing to solve the interstate boundary ‘outside the court’ at their meeting in Guwahati on January 24, 2022, UNTABA however, stated that the agreement between the two chief ministers appeared to be “just a political gimmickry.”
UNTABA said it was “discouraging to observe the Indo-Naga political discussions” that has completely sidelined the rights of the Naga people over their lands.
UNTABA maintained that the boundary between Assam and Nagaland starting from Golaghat to Tizit till the tri-junction of Assam, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh was ‘Dodhar Ali’ that was still in existence and from Golaghat down to Barak river bordering Manipur was well defined in the 1875 Notification of British-India Government.
It said that until the historical facts were considered, it was the state government’s bounden duty to explore all the available means to see that Naga people should not be deprived of rights over royalties on petroleum products, natural gases and forest products. It also stated that the “Indo-Naga” political solution, “if it ever comes”, can never be acceptable and honourable without considering those historical facts.


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