Kohima, February 15: Opposition NPF MLA, Y Vikheho Swu today claimed that most of the PDA Government’s completion and inauguration of projects in the State are works initiated by the NPF led DAN Government.
Participating in the debate on the motion of thanks on the Governor’s address in the State assembly here, Swu said, “Completion and inauguration is not an accomplishment to be celebrated. Most of the PDA completion and inauguration are mostly the works initiated by us, the NPF DAN led govt. There is no real pride in wearing someone else’s feather in your cap”.
Dwelling on the general roads of Nagaland, the NPF MLA said that the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari during his visit to Nagaland on 3rd November 2015 to lay the foundation stone for the four-lane road from Dimapur to Kohima had clearly assured a commitment of Rs 10,000 crores package for Nagaland for construction of concrete roads. The union minister in keeping his commitment had acknowledged Rs. 324 crores for the Capital road (Dimapur – Kohima Bypass) from Niuland to Merima – Kohima, now to Peducha, which is now in progress.
Pointing that this is the fourth Budget session for the 13th Assembly, he asked could the present PDA Government not work on the many State roads that are already approved and declared as National Highways.
He listed some of the roads – From NH 29 to NH 29 (new NH Nos.) Dimapur Bypass (2.70 KM); Trans Eastern Highway from Mon- Longwa- Pangsha- Kiphere-Avangkhu (280 KM); Showba- Guzunyu- Pughoboto- Zunheboto- Aghunato- Shamator- Noklak- Pangsha (200 KM); Gandhi Ashram Chuchuyimlang NH 2 to Pangsha (International Trade Centre) (167 KM) and Maibung in Tening in Nagaland to Tamenlong via Tamei in Manipur (75 KM) totaling 724 KM.
The concerned Central Minister Gadkari is still in absolute power in the centre having the full authority to fulfill his commitments, he said while lamenting that “the PDA government has not even subscribed our due share for the improvement of Nagaland’s failing roads”.
During the last NPF led DAN Government, Swu recalled that they immediately initiated the consultancy tender process for the above mentioned roads. However, unfortunately there was a change of guards within the Government and subsequently the general elections. Thereafter, the present PDA Government took over while unfortunately, the consultancy tender process is still at the consultancy level, collecting dust in a corner.
“Whose failure is this,” he asked while demanding the concerned department and the leader of the house to start executing the process without any further delay as the centre has already acknowledged our road conditions and declared them as National Highways.
Swu also remarked that the entire stretch of roads in Nagaland comes to a pitiable condition for lack of maintenance policy. He cited that NEC road which was promised and assured to be upgraded to National Highway is in a very deplorable condition for over a decade. It is one lifeline road which would greatly benefit the entire ENPO areas, as it is the shortest and the best route which will connect Mokokchung district and the entire ENPO areas, he said.
Swu highlighted that the Dikhu Bridge between Salulamang and Mongtikang is most important to connect the remote areas of Mokokchung-Longleng- Mon- Tuensang- Noklak areas. “This will significantly improve the travel and welfare of the eastern region of our Nagaland,” he said.
In the Health & Family Welfare department, the MLA appreciated the immediacy in recruitment of health care workers; providing requisite infrastructure and equipment; ongoing setting up of Medical Oxygen generation plants with a capacity of 1680 litre per minute.
Nonetheless, he said we were all aware of the absolute state of panic when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the entire country. Many people lost their lives to the disease and many more succumbed to it under circumstances that were avoidable, he said.
The MLA expressed ‘utter surprise’ that Dimapur – the largest commercial cosmopolitan city and having the largest density of population did not have a functional ICU… and said, “…imagine the plight of other district hospitals.”
“ICU beds, ventilators, PPE kits, and masks stood out starkly ill equipped. Every single one of the district hospitals in the state is a mockery of our responsibility to the Naga people. If Ebola comes for us next, can Nagaland withstand an onslaught at this state of healthcare facility? The answer will be No,” he said.
Maintaining that Covid-19 is just an initial warning to us, Swu called upon the Government to pragmatically begin upgrading the health services in the State.
“There is no better time than this to retrospect and introspect on our state’s health care workers and its infrastructure,” he said.
Nagaland today is fortunate to have well endowed and qualified health care workers… However, much to our dismay, our infrastructure stands extremely unfavourable to even carry out basic medical needs and procedures, he said.
This, he said, leads to negative substitution of services by the healthcare workers, whereby they set up private clinics and hospitals to meet the needs of the public.
Ultimately, the common people face the burn of unavailability of doctors, higher medical bills and undeniably even deaths, he said.
Touching on the agriculture sector, the MLA said the pride of Nagaland in agricultural productivity has been a humiliation in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were stark naked in the war front to meet our daily grocery needs,” he said.
Saying that in every assembly session for the last many decades the Agriculture department has always had a special mention about the distribution of tractors and machinery, Swu questioned, where is the data on productivity from those investments?
Asking whether there is a non partisan third party keeping track of who gets what, the Opposition MLA queried, “Do those machines and equipment actually reach the needy ones or to the leisure farming gimmicks… friends and family or party workers in lieu of votes?”
“With 98% population depending on rice as a staple food, can Nagaland still continue to depend on the pity and mercy of the neighbouring states and government rice distribution plans,” he remarked while calling upon the Government to reevaluate our legislation and action plans to ensure self sufficiency beginning with rice.
On education, he touched on the “the brilliant pandemic prompted plan that the education department came out with, the online student evaluation portal”.
Terming it a proactive action being taken in the midst of crisis, Swu however said “it was done without thought given for the students who do not have access to smartphones and/or the internet”.
This is especially true in the rural regions where network conditions are abysmal, he said.
Saying that the Government has created inequality, he said “well off students have access to the plan while the lacking children languish inside the forests trying to get a signal”.
In this, he said with proper coordination and accountability, simple computer service or wi-fi hotspots could be provided in the village centres where the children can social distance or gather in turns.
On Higher and Technical Education, where the Governor had claimed that the state proudly excels in implementing 10 new projects under RUSA 2.0, he said the pace at which this is being implemented contradicts the far cry to the already assured upgradation of Khelhoshe Polytechnic at Atoizu to that of Engineering College in 2007, when Rio was Chief Minister under NPF ruled Government.
“This has fallen to deaf ears and has no mention in the action plan of 2021-22,” he said while pointing to the Minister for Higher and Technical Education in July 2018, on his visit to Khelhoshe Polytechnic reassured for upgradation. “We want assurance of the commitment that it should be started without any further delay,” he demanded.
On the power sector, Swu while appreciating the power department in strengthening the transmission capacity however said that the state of electricity infrastructure in Nagaland has been sorely lacking despite electricity being one of the 8 core industries of the country.
He drew the attention of the Government on the less than desirable conditions that prevail in the power sector saying that at present, the peak power demand in the State is approximately 175 MW while 90% of Nagaland’s power consumption is imported from outside the state of Nagaland.
This, he said, should alarm all because if the power supply from beyond the state boundary is disrupted by unforeseen circumstances, we would effectively be crippled because of how dependent modern society is on electricity.
The country is moving ahead while we are still here discussing the fact that we just don’t have the infrastructure to even generate our own electricity, he remarked.
He highlighted that the Doyang hydro-electrical project is owned by NEEPCO and Nagaland gets a share of only 15% of what is generated by it, he said.
Maintaining that power generation issues is not even a question of topographical disadvantage, he said the Dikhu HEP and the Tizu-Zungki HEP alone have the potential to provide more than 200 MW of power, which is more than self sufficiency levels of 175 MW.
The grim reality is that Nagaland is generating less than 25 MW of power and relying on NEEPCO, NHPC and NTPC whose aggregate supply isn’t nearly enough for a power hungry Nagaland.
Till today, he said Nagaland is being compelled to purchase energy very expensively from the market to meet its needs.
This puts a higher financial burden on the State Government’s already burdened purse, he said while questioning has the power department come up with a feasible, fleshed out policy for the tapping of our rivers for their hydroelectric potential?
“If yes, why hasn’t it taken precedence despite the fact that the conditions prevailing in the state power department are harrowing?” asked the MLA.
Swu pointed that the state spends more than Rs. 300 crores annually on purchase of power while the revenue realized is staggeringly low i.e. Rs. 150 crores, approximately a loss of 50% each year.
Stating that Nagaland’s power distribution system is weak and this is the major cause of power instability, the NPF MLA asked the leader of the house, on what is the Government’s policy on resolving the bottlenecks in power supply? (Page News Service)