Nagaland unhappy with its own draft PEL rules

Vol 13, PW 23 (06 May 10) People & Policy

Widening differences are emerging within remote and volatile Nagaland over moves to attract explorers back to this largely unexplored but hugely prospective northeast Indian state bordering Myanmar.

For months, Nagaland authorities have been working on new rules to govern future Petroleum Exploration Licences (PELs) and Petroleum Mining Leases (PMLs). PETROWATCH learns a seven-member multi-party panel set up by the state government and headed by Nagaland minister for planning TR Xeliang is unhappy with the first draft of these new rules submitted by the state’s geology and mining department last month.

“We have gone through the first draft and want more clarifications,” Xeliang tells this report. He adds the mining and geology department needs to come back with clarifications and answers within two weeks, “so we (the panel) can take the final proposal to the state cabinet by the end of this month (May).

” Xeliang criticises the geology and mining department for leaving several key points ambiguous. For instance, Xeliang objects strongly to a section in which the department suggests old Nagaland PELs and PMLs could be modified after negotiations with ONGC and the oil ministry “in a spirit of give and take.

” “What is the meaning of ‘give and take’” thunders Xeliang. “Give what and take what We have asked the department to spell out clearly what they mean by this.

” He continues to remind us that under Article 371-A of the Indian constitution, Nagaland has a separate status from the rest of India: all oil ultimately belongs to the local people, not to central government. “Oil will go to ONGC if this draft is passed,” complains Xeliang.

“But what about our Naga people; what will they get” Xeliang says his primary aim is to ensure that fresh bids for Nagaland PELS and PMLs are “invited on terms and conditions set by us, not by Delhi.”