Oil India hits roadblock in Arunachal Pradesh

Vol 20, PW 12 (09 Mar 17) People & Policy

Oil India is growing increasingly frustrated with the Arunachal Pradesh state government's inability to help it kick-start exploration and production at the promising Ningru PML in India's remote northeast.

More than 13 years have passed since Oil India was forced to stop work at Ningru when its Petroleum Mining Lease (PML) expired on November 26, 2003. In a show of support, the AP state government called Oil India for a meeting in state capital Itanagar on February 3 for an explanation with a promise to help the junior state-owned explorer overcome forestry concerns at the environment ministry in Delhi.

Contacted by this report, Arunachal Pradesh deputy chief minister Chowna Mein said on February 23 he plans to call an urgent meeting with chief secretary Shakuntala Gamlin on how to proceed. But when contacted Gamlin pleaded ignorance.

"I have no environment proposal regarding Oil India with me," she tells this report. "This is typical of how local state governments work," said a local analyst.

"The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing!" At issue is Oil India's inability to convince the environment ministry that it can drill wells at Ningru in compliance with the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1988. This critical obstacle has forced state government to stall approval of a 20-year PML extension granted to Oil India by Delhi.