State losing Rs 23 crore annually from Nagaland House Kolkata: NPF

State losing Rs 23 crore annually from Nagaland House Kolkata: NPF
NPF Spokesman Achumbemo Kikon and Media Chief, Atou Liezietsu addressing the press conference at Kohima

Kohima, September 24: Government of Nagaland is losing Rs 23 crore annually due to one-sided agreement signed with the Civil Engineers Enterprise Pvt. Ltd (CEEPL), Kolkata in 1997, claims the Naga People’s Front (NPF).
Opposition NPF today flayed the ruling Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA) led by NDPP for sleeping over the matter, despite the previous Government having vigorously pursued the matter, and questioned the Government’s credibility. Addressing a press conference at the party’s central office here, NPF spokesman, Achumbemo Kikon said the last Government under the leadership of former Chief Minister, T R Zeliang had pursued the matter to deliver justice to the people, but in the process the tenure of the last Government ended and the new Government took over.
He questioned why the PDA Government had remained laid-back even after the Kolkata Court had served the interim order to the State Government to receive the house rent at Nagaland House Kolkata as per the 1997 agreement. He said Government should have immediately filed affidavit for stay order in the higher Court.
“PDA Government should have challenged the interim order,” Kikon said. He said after the previous Government had series of meetings in and outside the State to renew the agreement with new rate, the CEEPL went to Court and the interim order was served to the State Government to accept the money through cheques as rent, which was not accepted by the Government. The interim order was passed on May 14 by the Calcutta High Court.
But the argument of Chief Minister, Rio was that there was no reliable lawyer in Kolkata who could represent the State, as the owner of the CEEPL is a “rich man”. But NPF rebutted such claim and added that they could smell rats. “How come the Government remained silent? We smell something fishy,” Kikon said.
The NPF demanded the Government to constitute an appropriate committee to probe into the anomalies. He went on to allege that the Government was not serious with the matter otherwise the Cabinet should have discussed the matter thoroughly, adding it should be a wholesome discussion.
The Cock spokesman also was critical of the Assembly with regard to allocation of time to discuss such magnitude of issue. “Enough time should have been given in the House for proper discussion,” he added. He also slammed the statement from the Chief Minister’s Office which was supposed to be answered in the Assembly by the Government as the questioned was asked in the Assembly.
He said according to the 1997 agreement the State Government has been receiving Rs 60 lakh annually, whereas it was supposed to receive Rs 24 crore.
The State Government first signed the agreement with the CEEPL on August 6, 1982 for 20 years but before completing the agreed period, the Government headed by the then former Chief Minister, S C Jamir constituted a Cabinet Sub-committee and subsequently signed the second agreement on December 24, 1997 without any presence of Naga officer. The first agreement was signed by Development Authority Nagaland (DAN), Government of Nagaland and Shyamalendu Ghosal & Party (Civil Engineers Enterprise Pvt. Ltd.) at a monthly rental rate of Rs 5.50 per sq. ft. subject to enhancement of the rate at 10% after every 5 years. It was signed between DAN represented by Mrityunjoy Ghosal, Secretary of DAN and Shyamalendu Ghosal, representing the lessee company (Tenant) under the name Engineers Enterprise. Earlier, CEEPL was known as Engineers Enterprise and Sh. S. Ghosal was a partner then. As per the terms and conditions, this agreement of 1982 was to be in force for a period of 21 years from the date of occupancy (as per Clause 16 of the 1982 Agreement) but surprisingly, before expiry of the said agreement, a new agreement was signed on December 24, 1997.
The 2nd agreement of 1997 was signed between the Chief Secretary of Nagaland A.M Ghokhale, representing the Government of Nagaland, and Managing Director of CEEPL, S. Ghosal, representing the lessee company (Tenant) on December 24, 1997 converting the lease (rental amount) to a lump-sum amount of Rs 5 lakhs per month or Rs 60 lakhs per year, and renewable after 20 years with an increase of 40%. S.K Chattopadhyay who was then Assistant Resident Commissioner, Kolkata was also a signatory of the second agreement as a witness.
If the State Government follows the pattern of rent as per 1982 agreement, the monthly rent is over Rs 8 lakhs per month the rental amount was converted to a lump-sum amount of Rs 5 lakhs per month. As per the 1997 agreement, the yearly rent was Rs 60 lakhs only whereas on the other hand, as per the old agreement of 1982, the yearly rent came to over Rs 1 crore. Technically, even if the State Government receives a rent of Rs 7 lakhs per month as per the interim order of May 14, 2018, the total rent per year still comes to only Rs 84 lakhs which is way less than the yearly rental rate received as per the 1982 agreement which was signed 36 years back.
Further he said the second agreement was drafted by A.R Barthakur, the then Advocate General of Nagaland who was a signatory of the agreement. He was AG, Nagaland from March 3, 1994 to March 3 2003. Strangely, the agreement was signed without any Naga representatives and there is no trace of any records leading to how and why the second agreement had taken place.
With the 2nd agreement coming to an end on 31st December, 2017 CEEPL had applied to Home Department for renewal of the said agreement of 1997 with an increase of 40% which comes to Rs 7 lakhs per month vide letter no CEEPL/HO/472, dated 12th May, 2017.
However, under the directive of the Chief Minister, the Home Department had written to CEEPL to make a fresh agreement and the rent to be rectified as per the prevailing market rate of that locality (Shakespeare Sarani, Kolkata) vide letter No. NGO/CAB-1/97 dated 20th February, 2015.
The prevailing rent rate in this locality (Shakespeare Sarani, Kolkata) is Rs.150 per sq. ft and the Government of Nagaland had proposed the rent at Rs. 2.22 crores per month from January 2018 as per existing market rate of 150 per sq. ft. The agreement which was executed in 1997 for 20 years was due in January 2018 and in this connection, the Government had served notice to CEEPL for enhancement of rate as per prevailing market rate with a fresh agreement to be executed between the two parties. Thereafter, CEEPL went to the Court to revalidate the old agreement of 1997.
On the PDA Government’s tall rhetoric of better roads, Kikon said due to the initiatives former Chief Minister, Zeliang the much awaited four-lane road from Kohima to Dimapur could takeoff but with the coming of the new Government the road has been almost abandoned by the contractors citing several reasons like security and non-payment of bills by the sub-contractors. He said the PDA Government had only delivered empty promises to the people adding instead of expediting the progress of the road, Government is trying to derail the project. He said Government’s emphasising on good roads is only in paper.
The NPF leader further said law and order has deteriorated and even uniform personnel and police officers are not safe, not to talk of security of the public. “It is not a political rhetoric but this is the ground reality,” he added. He said people are under constant threat and demanded the PDA Government to resign for an alternative arrangement which could secure the people.
He also demanded befitting punishment to the killers who had killed a police. (Page News Service)