Militant Naga students want details of ONGC deal

Vol 5, PW 9 (20 Jun 01) People & Policy

A powerful student body in Nagaland is threatening the local government with disruption unless it makes public details of an agreement with ONGC for the resumption of exploration and production.

In a statement this month the Naga Students Federation cautioned local authorities that unless details of the agreement were released, the NSF would not endorse it. The NSF is a powerful militant organisation in India's hostile northeast.

It demands special constitutional status for Nagaland on the lines of Kashmir and a total ban on outsiders entering Nagalandfrom other parts of India. In 1994 it spearheaded moves to expel ONGC for allegedly cheating the state government of royalty.

It now fears a "back-door deal" has been struck between ONGC and the local state government. On 26th April Nagaland's state Chief Secretary R.

S Pandey led a delegation to Delhi for talks with the former oil secretary Pejavar Shankar. Pandey returned with a solution to enable ONGC's return after a gap of seven years.

As a concession, Delhi agreed to make additional payment as 'add on' to the normal royalty paid to the state in recognition of its special status under Article 371(A) of the Constitution. Pandey said the state cabinet has approved the issue of all relevant licences to ONGC, and that it would resume exploration in the Champang area of Wokha district.