Nagaland struggles to get governance, development on track even as Sikkim, Meghalaya take-off

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Naga Republic News

 

Within a span of ten days, both Sikkim and Meghalaya exhibited to the world the achievement it made in the vital area of infrastructure development. On September Prime Minister, Narendra Modi inaugurated the Pakyong Airport in Sikkim, described as an engineering marvel. Sikkim’s dream of having an airport came true nine years after a foundation stone of the greenfield airport was laid in 2009.

 

Pakyong Airport in Sikkim

 

Prime Minister Narednra Modi at the inauguration of the Pakyong Airport in Sikkim

 

In contrast, Nagaland struggles to get its Greenfield airport project off the ground despite several attempts made. The Nagaland government had purchased 300 acres of land at Chiethu under Chiechama village in Kohima District long ago for the proposed Greenfield airport project. But now it’s over ten years and Nagaland is still trying to finalise the survey work for the land site.

 

As per information available, the central government during 2006 had carried out a field assessment for the ambitious project. During a recent visit to Nagaland for a fresh survey of the Chiethu site, officials from Delhi pointed out that earlier report of 2006 has been “nullified”.

 

The earlier survey was carried out at the proposed site in 2006 by the Airport Authority of India (AAI), which had completed the ‘techno-economic’ feasibility work. It was informed that the North East Council (NEC) had sanctioned INR 90 lakh while the state government sanctioned INR 10 lakh, taking the total to INR one crore for the survey.

 

The Detailed Project Report (DPR) that was submitted in 2006 was nullified as the feasibility report was found to be ‘unclear.’

 

However the real truth is not known of what exactly transpired between the Nagaland government and the Civil Aviation Ministry in Delhi. Some years back it was reported in the media that due to the hilly and undulating terrain which, according to the Airport Authority of India (AAI), may pose a limitation to its operations and hamper further expansion of the airport and also sensing the huge cost that would be incurred for its construction, the AAI directed the Government of Nagaland to situate another suitable site which is plainer.

 

Nagaland’s ruling politicians are mostly seen in New Delhi doing pleasantries

 

Consequently, the State Government identified the site at Rüzaphema village in Dimapur district and survey was completed during the previous government under Chief Minister TR Zeliang. We are now back to square one with the Neiphiu Rio led PDA government once again proposing Chiethu near Kohima for the Greenfield airport project. Interestingly the BJP’s Paiwang Konyak was the Minister in-charge during the previous TR Zeliang government and continues to hold the same portfolio under the Rio government.

 

Officials from the Central government during their recent visit in August this year had said the Nagaland government has submitted “its own assessment” to the team and that the “state government’s survey by its own team has relevant information”. “We will submit both the reports to the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation for consideration,” the official from Delhi had said.

 

There is still no official word on whether the Union Ministry has approved the latest survey report by AAI and DGCA.

 

Meanwhile, another Northeastern State, Meghalaya will be hosting the 2022 National Games. And there are investors keen to foray into the State.

 

Nita Ambani, founder and chairperson of Reliance Foundation and member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during a visit to Shillong on Monday (Oct 1) said that the foundation is interested in developing sporting infrastructure for 2022 national games to be hosted by Meghalaya.

 

Reliance Foundation chairman Nita Ambani along with Bollywood actor John Abraham and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conard Sangma during the football match organised under the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports here at the JN Stadium on Oct 1

 

“We would love to talk to the government and help in every way possible for the national games and of course now with the national games coming up in 2022 the whole nation is excited and looking towards Meghalaya for this large sporting event,” she told reporters here in Meghalaya.

 

Also Bollywood actor and owner of Indian Super League (ISL) franchise NorthEast United FC, John Abraham met Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma to discuss plans for setting up a football academy in Shillong.

 

 

In contrast, Nagaland is yet to enjoy the confidence of investors from mainland India because of the poor state of affairs—economic backwardness, political unrest, governance deficit and corrupt practices.

 

(Above) The Multi-Discipline Sports Centre (MDSC) in the erstwhile State Stadium at Dimapur is yet to see the light of the day due to lack of funding even as the half-constructed structure stands testimony of Government’s apathy towards games and sports.The construction of the stadium began in 2006 and was supposed to be completed within three years time with funds from the Centre as well as the state Government. But the snail-pace construction works has lingered on till date.
Concerned over the delay in the construction works, the ACAUT Nagaland recently visited the MDSC where the construction works are stalled due to lack of funds. Spread over an area of 64 acre, the only visible structure which can be seen is the half-constructed stadium, the construction of which began in 2006.

 

And despite its popularity and craze, football in Nagaland is in a sorry state. Poor infrastructure is impacting the development of the game. As reported in the media, the State doesn’t even have a national level football ground. Indira Gandhi Stadium in the state capital and the State Stadium in Dimapur has been “under construction” for decades.

 

Woeful state of sports infrastructure in Nagaland as seen here during a major football tournament held recently in Kohima (Morung Photo)

 

Within the first few months of coming to power, the Rio led PDA government has constituted an Investment & Development Authority of Nagaland (IDAN) with former Chief Secretary, Alemtemshi Jamir as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The idea of the IDAN is to work towards bringing in investment into Nagaland.

 

The Naga Republic in its Think Tank section under the Editorial ‘Nagaland needs a task force on infrastructure’ had commented that “given the present state of our roads and power supply (infrastructure), no sensible investor will want to come”. It had suggested that top priority should be given instead to rebuild the State’s infrastructure like roads and electricity.

 

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