Project neglect


The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India report presented in the just concluded 2nd session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly has again revealed that projects, both State and central sector, undertaken in Nagaland do not get completed, and if the projects do get completed than probably it is non-existent. Yes, the CAG in its report had cited detection of non-existent yet “completed” projects amounting to Rs 6.68 crore. The projects included a cultural centre, a skill development centre, a tribal old age day care, a tribal co-education centre, a community training institute, and a mission hostel. The report also cited many incomplete projects cutting across almost all departments involving crores of rupees. Apparently inordinate delay and cost escalation in completion of various developmental projects in Nagaland seems to be the hallmarks of successive governments in the State. These factors which have been ailing many projects in different parts of Nagaland do not make news but completion of one odd project well in time or a little later definitely makes news in a place like ours. Those ruling the roost in the corridors of power are more interested in ribbon cutting and laying foundation stones of the projects where the plates should bear their names claiming credit. It does not matter to them whether that project is completed or shelved mid-way or immediately after its inauguration. We have many projects yet to see completion, even after more than 5-10 years of the scheduled date of completion. The project for construction of Multi-Discipline Sports Centre (MDSC) in Dimapur, which is yet to be completed even after 12 years after the project started in 2006, is a case in point. Regular reshuffling of officers in charge of such projects has left the fate of hundreds of projects hanging in balance with no attention being paid to their time schedule for completion or otherwise. The Government appears to be less bothered whether a project is completed in time or not. Clearly this is the sad state of affairs facing our people. It appears that none of the successive governments in Nagaland had anything else to do than indulging in ordering transfers and postings in every cabinet meeting instead of reviewing the progress of various development projects or laying policy guidelines for improvement in working of Government agencies. Transfers and postings are done by the cabinet in bulk without taking into consideration the tenure of officers at specified posts or their performance at their previous positions. Accountability or no accountability of the officers is not the criterion for judging the performance of the officers but the whims and fancies of those in the Government. It is a sad of affairs that some of the projects have been completed with delays of years and decades together at five or ten times the cost of the original costs. In certain cases, the projects have been abandoned mid-way for the reasons best known to those ruling the roost in the corridors of power. Some of the projects have been abandoned by the governments, which have made a change in the ruling corridors. Works on these projects have resumed for completion only after pressure from the people in the hinterland. The wastage of scarce resources has hit the pockets of the poor people very hard as a result of which the people have been forced to cough up double the money for the completion of projects. Sadly, some of these projects have become money minting machines for the politicians of all hues over the past many decades. The politicians have also developed a vested interest in delay and cost over-runs of the projects. This is mainly for the reason that time delay in the completion of projects has been ensuring free flow of money to the politicians. The second big casualty of the transfers is the delay and cost over-runs in the completion of the projects. Usually, majority of the projects miss the deadline as also the schedule fixed by the funding agencies as a result of which the Government agencies lose credibility and do not get financial advances from the funding agencies for future projects. Unfortunately, cost over-runs fall in the kitty of the government and the scarce resources of the State exchequer and hard-earned money of the tax-payers.