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2-day NH-61 bandh begins, road blockade within Lotha and Rengma areas as protest

(L-R) Government Registered Class 1 Contractors from Lotha and Rengma communities with representatives of various organizations during the bandh on NH-61, Tuesday. (NP)
Correspondent WOKHA/TSEMINYU, AUG 17 (NPN):
Published on 18 Aug. 2010 12:34 AM IST
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Government Registered Class 1 Contractors from the Rengma and Lotha communities began the two-day road blockade on the national highway 61 within their tribal jurisdiction at 6 am on August 17 till August 18 to press the government for cancellation of an advertisement dated July 8, 2010 and to accommodate local contractors by breaking up the works into piecemeal “ as had been the practice.”
A marathon meeting Tuesday between government officials and agitating contractors ended in stalemate.
Representatives of different social organizations from the Rengma and Lotha community joined the Rengma-Lotha Government Registered Class-I contractors to enforce the blockade. Road blocks were set up at both the entry and exit points within the respective tribal jurisdictions, below Botsa and Doyang bridge where all vehicles were prevented from moving.
The Rengma Government Registered Class-I Contractors led by its president M. S. Khing and supported by representatives from Rengma Hoho, Rengma Students’ Union, Rengma Mothers’ Association, GBs and Tseminyu Town Council setup road blockade along the NH-61 at the rest house below Botsa.
Similarly, the Lotha (Kyong) Government Registered Class-I Contractors led by its president Thomas Ngullie and supported by the Kyong Hoho, Kyong Eloe (Mothers’) Hoho, Kyong Students’ Union, Wokha Town Council and Longsa Village Council set up road blockades at both the entry points to the Kyong area at Doyang Bridge and Santsuphen on the NH-61.
Talking to visiting media persons, presidents of both the agitating Class-I contractors’ association demanded the state government withdraw the global tender floated earlier for construction of the two-lane on the NH-61 from Km 41 to Km 72 and follow the practice of accommodating local contractors.
The contractors demanded that the sanctioned works should be made piecemeal as in the past on the same highway covering Kohima and some portions of Mokokchung district, to accommodate and encourage the local contractors since none of the local contractors qualify for the global tender. They questioned as to why there could not be a break up of the work when it was to be carried out within their jurisdiction while the same was being practiced in other districts.
The contractors clarified they were neither against the government nor the department nor objected to any development but agitating only to protect the local indigenous peoples’ right. “We’re the land owners and we have every right,” the contractors and the organizations supporting them said. They also threatened to resort to further action if the government failed to concede to the demand.
The two unions had earlier submitted a joint memorandum to the state government with the same request but was rejected by the department citing central guidelines and criteria. The department then requested the two unions to cooperate with the department.
Meanwhile, commissioner and secretary road & bridges invited the contractors and hoho leaders from the two communities in the afternoon to solve the impasse. However, even after a marathon meeting , the efforts proved futile. Contractors and the two hoho leader who attended the meeting alleged that the government instead of conceding to the demand continued to persist with the request to call off the agitation and cooperate with the department.
The leaders cautioned that the agitation would be intensified further until their demands were acceded.
It may be mentioned that the two apex tribal hohos had stated that such a national bidding system was a “direct deprivation and discrimination” against the local contractors and urged the state government, particularly the department responsible, to promptly address the demand made by the local contractors. They also requested the department to keep in abeyance the process of opening the tenders till demands were fulfilled so as to avoid any untoward incident.

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