Cost and risk

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/24/2020 1:45:28 PM IST

 There was speculation that the state government would be in little mood to spend money and time for celebration especially during the COVID-19 pandemic which has adversely affected the state’s fragile economy. The state government had initially made the pitch to not organise the Hornbill Festival in December this year. This was informed by the Adviser Tourism H.Khehovi Yepthomi in Kohima. The Adviser had told newspersons that in view of the dire straits that the tourism industry was facing under the COVID-19 pandemic and unless the situation improved, the state government would not be in a position to hold the festival. However, it appears, that the state government has read the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the state and has decided to take a call. Recently, the department of tourism disclosed that it was in the process of working out modalities for holding the festival in virtual form besides participation of foreign and domestic tourists in the festival. It appears, at least to the government, that between July and October the situation has considerably improved so much that there was no problem in holding the annual festival. After all, Nagaland has dubbed itself as “The Land of Festivals” and organising the mega event would but only be to live up to its name. It is not known as to what are the factors behind the government’s decision to hold the festival virtually and whether it will serve the purpose? The opposition NPF has come out with a scathing attack over this issue of a virtual Hornbill Festival without the crowd etc. In a rejoinder the NPF said “Even if the celebration may be in virtual form, a festival is a festival, and in any festival, celebration without people’s participation, there cannot be any celebration. Therefore, if the government is in the process to celebrate the festival without public participation, then there is no need to hold any celebration.” This aspect of a public event without the public is also like celebrating a birthday without the guests. There are two issues involved in this matter- funds and public safety. With regard to funds, it is admitted by the government itself it is in dire straits financially. As per the statement issued by the finance department, the state’s monthly requirement was Rs.374 crore but in April the state received only Rs.263 crore showing a deficit of Rs.111 crore. Further it was also disclosed that the state’s own resources have also drastically come down to Rs.21 crore from the projected estimate of Rs.98 crore (after lockdown) and indicating a shortfall of Rs.77 crore. The lockdown may have deprived the state of revenue to the tune of around Rs.77 annually. Following the withdrawal of the unpopular COVID-19 cess, the state will stand to lose an estimated Rs.55.58 crore annually or around Rs.4.7 crore monthly. The COVID-19 cess was a temporary addition for augmenting the state’s revenue. Now regarding public safety in the light of COVID-19 pandemic; the state’s own health department on October 18 , had specifically stated that it has been witnessing “uncontrolled spread” of the virus at “super spreader events” such as in closed settings like restaurants, bakery, religious communities etc. It warned that if this continued then there was bound to be increased risk of community transmission. It is now left to anyone to analyse if any gathering whether big or small, that too in an official programme is worth the cost and risk.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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