Kohima, July 30: Hundreds of villagers under Chiephobozou Rural Development Block of Kohima district spearheaded by Zhadima village Tuesday stopped Nagaland government from commissioning of the much needed water supply project.
Zhadima village council had submitted a representation to the Principal Secretary of Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) yesterday objecting to the commissioning of the project scheduled for today.
Nonetheless, the department along with its Minister, N Jacob Zhimomi went to the project jurisdiction with the intent of convincing the villagers to allow them to commission the project.
But, the angry villagers blocked the way of the minister and his entourage at Zhadima zero point by putting heaps of mud and stone on the way leading to the water supply project.
The leaders of Zhadima village – Head Gaon Burah (GB) Kedilezo Mere Keditsu, Village Development Board secretary Roko Angami and youth president Vizosielie Khoubve affirmed that they would not allow commissioning of the project unless water supply pipes reaches every household in the 24 villages.
“The sole reason for obstructing the programme was because of the incompletion of works in all the several village receiver sites,” they said while also lamenting that despite being the landowners of the water treatment plant the department had made the commissioning programme without intimating the village.
After listening to the grievances of the villagers, Minister Zhimomi said the project had started in 2011 but was incomplete and only after he took over works were pursued rigorously since March last year.
Expressing ignorance of the past happening, he said, “Learning about the objection of the villagers, my department officials told me not go for commissioning but I wanted have first hand dialogue and learn about the grievances of the villagers so I decided to come here”.
While acknowledging that initially the project was meant for water supply to 24 villages under Chiephobozou RD Block through gravitation, he said due to topography and other technical reasons it was not feasible and therefore the department apprised the DoNER ministry and decided to do the work on phase manner for only 10 villages.
He accepted that the villagers were not informed about change in the project, which led to the creation of misunderstanding.
He said that pipe connections to all the households is not covered under the scheme, however the reservoir tanks and connection are made in the respective khels (sectors) of the covered 10 villages for supply of drinking water.
Other 14 villages will be covered through deep tube wells by 2024 and also proposals for additional requirements have been taken up with Jal Shakti Ministry, Zhimomi informed.
Supply pipes to the ten 10 villages have been completed, he said while also assuring the villagers that works for other 14 villages will be completed by December this year, he said.
In this, the Minister requested the villagers to allow the department to commission the project today.
He was supplemented by Advisor to Chief Minister, MLA Zhaleo Rio and Principal Secretary to the Government, Maongwati Aier, who had accompanied him for the commissioning.
But, the villagers remained adamant not to allow the commissioning of the project unless water pipe connection reaches every household of the initially proposed 24 villages.
The Zhadima village leaders recalled that similar project was taken in 1985 for supply of water to Nerhema and Zhadima village but even that time also after commissioning the project nothing was initiated further.
Therefore, they reiterated that the government can commission the project only after completion of the entire work in December.
Accepting the stand of the villagers, the minister and department officials returned without further arguments. (Page News Service)