Congress president Sonia Gandhi sought to lure voters at a rally in Mizoram’s Lunglei town on Monday with the prospect of joint sharing on a 50-50 basis the profits from oil and natural gas proceeds from the state.
Indigenous rights groups and opposition parties had been protesting against previous sharing agreements in which Mizoram was set to receive only 10-12 percent of profits.
An indigenous rights group,the Zo Reunification Organisation,had even protested to the United Nations regarding what it termed as “too low” profit sharing models even as opposition MLAs had raised the issue in the house.
At the campaign rally that attracted an estimated 2000 people at Lunglei town,the UPA chairperson also sought to link the state’s expected natural resources boom to women’s empowerment,saying women in the state would be able to perform domestic chores such as cooking once piped natural gas is delivered to homes. Women voters outnumber male voters in Mizoram.
A vast area of Mizoram,comprising almost 58% of the state,contains deposits of oil and natural gas.
Oil extraction was begun in 2011 by India majors ONGC,OIL and IOC and a number of oil corporations from Israel,US,France and Russia selected through global tenders. Gas was discovered in the state in 2011.
Noting the universal musical talent of Mizo youth,Gandhi proposed the founding of a convention centre which would train musicians and hold concerts.