NSCN (IM) warns against petroleum exploration in Assam-Nagaland border areas

In a significant development, the NSCN (IM) declared on Wednesday that no exploration of oil and natural gas will be allowed along the Assam Nagaland bordering areas until an honourable political settlement is reached between the Nagas and the Government of India. This statement comes barely two weeks after Assam and Nagaland signed an MOU to explore oil along their bordering areas.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma receiving Nagaland Chief Minister
Neiphiu Rio on 21 April at Assam house, New Delhi. (Credit: Twitter)

NSCN (IM) warns against petroleum exploration:

“The 600 million tonnes of oil and natural gas reserves is a blessed wealth of Nagas and no authority will be given the liberty to exploit so long as Government of India continues to handle the Naga political issue with flattering and betraying fashion,” said the NSCN (IM) in a statement issued on Wednesday.

“Ever since Nagaland state was created in 1963 the Government of India has been casting covetous eyes on Nagas’ mineral wealth as Nagaland state is endowed with variety of mineral deposits, particularly petroleum. But the sticking point is the unresolved political issue that is still hanging fire in the negotiating table for more than 25 years,” the statement said.

“Significantly, more than two decades back National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) had issued standing order that no mineral wealth in Naga areas will be allowed for exploration and extraction until political settlement is arrived at. This order still stands valid today,” it said. 

The NSCN (IM) said that  no amount of justification in the name of mobilizing financial resources for development will stand to ride roughshod over the inalienable Naga people’s rights over their land resources.

“Ironically, this oil issue has come at the time when the Government of India is showing no sincerity and commitment to respect the historical and political rights of the Naga people as enshrined in the historic Framework Agreement of August 3, 2015, and pulling the Indo-Naga political talks for more than 25 years on flimsy ground of negotiating on the non-negotiable issue of Naga National Flag and Constitution,” they said.

The ceasefire outfit urged the government to accord similar amount of political commitment to the Indo-Naga political talks as much as the Government of India have shown to the mineral wealth, particularly oil and natural gas of Nagaland.

Last month, Assam and Nagaland Chief Ministers Himanta Biswa Sarma and Neiphiu Rio agreed in principle to go ahead with oil exploration in areas along their disputed boundary for the economic benefit of both states and signed a n MoU on the issue.

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