Oil row: Nagaland stands up to Veerappa Moily

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Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily
SummaryCiting special constitutional powers, state shortlists firms for oil exploration, ignores Centre.

of oil and gas resources. Then MoS for petroleum R P N Singh replied, “...The Nagaland Assembly on July 26, 2010, passed a resolution [that] in respect of ownership and transfer of land and its resources including mineral oil, no Act of Parliament shall apply to the state, which shall make appropriate rules to apply and enforce within the state... Ministry of Law and Justice is of the opinion that the term ‘land and its resources’ in Article 371 A would include mineral oil and their resources and the State of Nagaland would have the power to frame its own laws...’’

Following the invitation of expressions of interest, Moily wrote to Rio on June 13, 2013, saying his ministry had consulted the home ministry and that Article 371 A “does not confer legislative power” to Nagaland “for regulation and development of mineral oil”. Moily wrote the Nagaland regulations “lack constitutional validity’’ and that the matter has “serious constitutional and economic implications”. He asked the Nagaland government to withdraw the notification and rescind the new rules. He wrote again on November 21. Moily could not be reached for comment.

Nagaland has stuck to its guns. “We have decided the companies that have paid the permit fee will go ahead and nothing will be cancelled. The ministry has been making contradictory statements. We are not asking for permission from anyone. We don’t need to,” said Zeliang.

The seven shortlisted companies are Metropolitan Oil and Gas Pvt Ltd, Kaashivishweshvara Minerals Pvt Ltd, Sila Energy Holdings Pvt Ltd, Deep Industries, Linkson and Sons, Jubilant and Assam Oil.

‘Castastrophic’

Naga People’s Front general secretary K G Kenye calls the Centre’s attitude a “political accident of catastrophic proportions”. “At a time when the Naga people have begun accepting their belonging to the Indian state and the insurgent movement has been petering out, if India behaves like this, then will we have a choice but to go underground once again and take up arms?” says Kenye.

‘Why will underground groups deal with Delhi if it can’t honour agreements?’

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio in conversation with Esha Roy

On how he intends to respond to the petroleum ministry’s letter asking Nagaland to withdraw a December notification inviting expressions of interest for oil exploration:

“I held a meeting with my ministers and senior officials on December 7 and we have decided not to rescind any of our notifications, as well as go ahead with the process

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