Revenue generation-V | Why state mineral resources earn so meager royalty?

Kharsang – file pic

  • Amendment to defective 1986 Act holds the clue

By Pradeep Kumar

ITANAGAR, Jan 28: The GoAP decision to grant extension of petroleum mining lease (PML) for Kharsang Oilfield covering 9.94 sqkm area in Changlang district to consortium of lessees, including Oil India Limited, Geopetrol International Inc, JEKPL Private Ltd (erstwhile Jubilant Energy) and GeoEnpro Petroleum Ltd on Monday is appreciable.

Interestingly, the PML had expired on 15.06.15 and the decision would increase earn more revenue (royalty) for the state in future, GeoEnpro CEO Ajay Kumar Ray said, as reported by the CMO. This raises a million dollar question when Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur own their own mineral resources to earn huge revenue.

The problems lies in defective Arunachal Statehood Act, 1986 which makes Arunachal only land protector, contrary to the belief as land owners, as the Centre owns all mineral resources for which the above PML would yield meager royalty only.

State’s Land Management Minister Nabam Rebia on 08.03.17 had told the assembly that Arunachal Pradesh Statehood Act, 1986, being a central act; its amendment is not under the purview of the GoAP while responding to a question by PPA MLA Nikh Kamin during question hour.

Rebia had said the GoAP would continue to pursue the Centre to amend Article 317 H of Constitution dealing with the state to make it at par with Article 371A dealing with Nagaland and Article 371 G which deals with Mizoram.

Responding to Kamin’s supplementary whether the GoAP would constitute a house committee to pursue the matter; Rebia had emphatically said that the assembly has no jurisdiction on the subject.

A private member resolution was moved by Takar Marde which was passed on 21.09.13 that said that the GoAP would take steps to move the Centre for amending the Constitution to provide special provisions for protection and safeguard of rights of its indigenous tribal population on ownership and transfer of land along the lines of Nagaland and Mizoram.

It may be recalled that The Economic Times consulting editor Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar in his column ‘Swaminomics’ on 12,08.05 and 25.09.11 had written: “India has enough oil trapped in shale and coal deposits in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to produce 140 million tonnes (mt) of oil per year for 100 years, according to former Oil India CMD Chudamani Ratnam and other  geologists. If so, India could become surplus in oil: its current consumption is around 110mt per year. Extracting oil from shale is expensive. Back in 1990, Ratnam and his fellow geologists estimated that oil from Assam’s oil- shale and coal formations would cost around $30 per barrel that was above the world price at the time, and therefore uneconomic. But now that oil has crossed $60/barrel, the idea suddenly looks profitable.

However, petroleum experts are still divided on this. US experts reckon that extracting oil from oil-shale is profitable today at $40/barrel. Yet, very few companies have entered this field for fear that the price of oil will drop below $35/barrel.

When attention of Union petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar was drawn at Banquet Hall here on 28.09.08, he had expressed his annoyance saying he was here as PR Minister. But on insistence, he had admitted to the fact and announced to form a high power central team to explore the possibility. Though nothing much has materialized so far, but a proper survey would encourage investors from within and outside the country to explore and exploit the vast natural resources to benefit India, particularly this resource poor state.

It is needless to mention that former deputy prime minister L K Advani, in his public address at Itanagar on 14.11.03, had honestly admitted that “Delhi had decided not to develop Arunachal after  1962 Chinese aggression fearing that it could benefit the neighbour. It was a historical blunder. But Arunachal Delhi se door hey, par Delhi ke dil se nahin”.

Arunachal is nearer to Delhi now with BJP-led Govt ruling in the Centre and state. Why not the GoAP move Delhi on the strength of Marde’s private member resolution adopted on 21.09.13 in the assembly for constitutional amendment for the needful?

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