Master plans & development could not be implemented due to land issues
KOHIMA, AUGUST 29: With Nagaland’s 71.14% population surviving in rural areas, the Government envisions to develop smart, safe and sustainable urban centres and communities with high quality basic services throughout the State by 2030.
This is one of the 17 goals of the Nagaland SDG Vision 2030 document released by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio recently in the State capital.
It provides short, medium and long term strategies to achieve 17 sustainable development goals (SDG), including sustainable cities and communities.
As per 2011 Census, Nagaland recorded the highest growth rate of 69% as compared to the national growth rate of 21%.
However, the Vision document maintained that the process of urbanisation has failed to take place evenly throughout the state as urban growth has been majorly concentrated in the key towns of Kohima and Dimapur.
The urban settlers, who are mostly youth, are faced with the problems of finding employment and livelihood opportunities, it said.
The towns and cities of the State face significant long-term challenges such as abnormal demographic change, climate change, lack of basic amenities including shortage of housing and lack of economic activities such as industries.
Within this existing scenario, the issue of urban poverty is emerging as another complex phenomenon due to lack of access to basic services, employment and housing, etc., it said.
The main challenges cited in the vision document towards building sustainable urban local bodies (ULBs) are:
Terrain and Land Stability: The hilly terrain of the State and stability of land has been continuously affecting the development activities all over the State. There is a lack of proper storm drainage systems and landslides occur frequently which not only create inconveniences but have disturbed the planned urban development strategies.
Land Availability: Due to a peculiar land holding system, availability of land for development activity is the biggest challenge. In most cases, projects are delayed leading to escalation of project cost. Likewise in many instances, works are delayed due to litigation related to land. So far master plans and development plans could not be implemented due to land issues.
Governance: Urban governance is a relatively recent phenomenon. As such, unlike rural areas, which have robust governance in place, the ULBs are struggling to provide a stable governance structure. The first election to the ULBs was held in 2004 in terms of the provision of the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001. Thereafter elections could not be held due to issues related to 33% women reservation. As such there is no elected body in place which is adversely affecting the urban governance system.
Resource Constraints: The ULBs are not empowered to realise property tax, which is the highest source of revenue for ULBs in other parts of the country. Moreover, the State Government is also not in position to provide State commission awards/grants due to resource scarcity. Therefore, ULBs are not in position to take up development activities. They are barely able to meet the cost of waste management and maintain the office. Due to financial constraint, they are not in position to employ sufficient numbers of staff for various activities.
Natural Hazards and Disasters: The degree of losses due to disaster depends on the type of disaster and its place of occurrence. The State of Nagaland lies under Seismic Zone V and is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes, hail storms, flash floods, landslides, thunderstorms and forest fires. Due to the vulnerable geography of the State, it faces huge loss of property and lives every year due to natural disasters. Landslides occur frequently in the hilly mountains of Nagaland due to the development process as well, which are triggered by rainfall infiltration. The lack of resilient infrastructure compounds the risks associated with both natural and man-made disasters. Buildings are constructed with poor engineering input without any regulatory framework.
At present, development and growth of many small towns and settlements have generally been precipitated only as a consequence of other activities such as construction of new roads, establishment of administrative headquarters or taking up special projects like Doyang Hydro Project etc., which has created gaps at various levels.
The Vision document therefore said it is imperative to address the aforementioned existing issues through holistic strategies as follows:
Community participation: Nagaland is rich in social capital. Involving and mainstreaming the society in the development process will resolve issues related to land. Moreover, involving the stakeholders in the development process will also create a sense of ownership for maintaining and upkeep of the assets.
Explore Funding Sources: To address the problem of fund constraint, it is proposed to explore various models of funding such as Corporate Social Responsibility Funds (CSR), External funding through EAP, Private Public Partnership (PPP Mode) and Negotiated Loans from funding agencies, etc., in addition to normal Mission and Programmes launched by line Ministry from time to time.
Strengthening of ULBs: Unless a democratically elected body is in place, it is difficult to truly empower the ULBs. Sincere effort must be made to hold the Municipal election at the earliest. The ULBs also need to be strengthened with sufficient manpower. Dedicated Municipal Cadre will ensure efficient delivery of service to the urban citizens.
Building Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly Cities: Encourage sustainable use of urban resources and support an economy based on a sustainable environment such as investment in green infrastructure, sustainable industries, recycling and environmental campaigns, pollution management, renewable energy, green public transportation, and water recycling and reclamation.
Building Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure: Along with providing basic infrastructure to city dwellers, accommodating the physiological/natural vulnerabilities of Nagaland is essential. Hence providing for earthquake resistant infrastructure and better coordination among the various Departments and stakeholders to reduce the risk and damage for any disaster would be the way forward.
Sustainable Waste Management: As envisaged in the Nagaland Integrated Waste Management Policy 2019, sustainable waste management will be achieved by 2030. Through this policy, the following activities are to be undertaken for achieving sustainable waste management:
Enable the community to reduce waste, reuse and recycle, efficient management and proper disposal of waste; Educate the citizens to segregate biodegradable, recyclable and inert waste at source; Instill sense of waste management at the source and to refrain from littering; Effective public participation and proposes to educate the masses through IEC programmes to ensure such community participation and compliance with law and Empower the authorities to enforce polluter to pay for waste.
(Page News Service)