23 yrs long enough to solve Naga issue: Rio

23 yrs long enough to solve Naga issue: Rio
Neiphiu Rio taking the Rashtriya salute during the 74th Independence Day celebration at Secretariat Plaza Kohima. (DIPR)
Correspondent KOHIMA, AUG 15 (NPN) | Publish Date: 8/15/2020 11:48:51 AM IST

State celebrates 74th I-Dday with minimum gathering

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said the commemoration of the 74th Independence Day was a reminder that 23 years of ceasefire and political dialogue was “more than enough time” to reach a logical conclusion on the Naga issue.

He said Nagas must stand and speak as one and give a final push to collectively achieve a settlement and remove the shackles that burden Naga society once and for all. Addressing at the 74th Independence Day celebration at Secretariat Plaza, Kohima the chief minister exuded confidence that a democratic and just settlement of the Naga issue will not only bring peace and stability to the entire North Eastern region, but will also directly strengthen the democratic foundations of this great nation.

He said a political solution that was honorable and acceptable to the Nagas will usher in an era of faster economic growth and greater employment opportunities for the youth and appealed to all sections of society to continue to make their honest contribution for lasting peace and reiterated its appeal to the negotiating parties to resolve the issue without further delay. 

Though Nagas may be living under different administrative setup, Rio said it was time that for civil societies to discuss among themselves and create a conducive atmosphere with full understanding as one Naga family.

Even as the talks between the Government of India and all the Naga Political Groups ended on October 31, 2019, Rio said people were optimistic of an early solution. He said the  state government has continued to play the role of an active facilitator in the ongoing political dialogue by making all possible efforts to create a congenial atmosphere for the peace talks to reach a logical conclusion. 

On combating COVID-19: Rio said that the state was adequately prepared to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. He said there was enough of PPEs, masks, medicines, ambulances and oxygen to deal with this crisis. Rio also said that state government has substantially augmented the human resource in the health sector by creating around 390 new posts.

He said the government took vital preventive measures like closing down all educational institutions and suspension of new Inner Line Permits in March 2020 and also imposing complete lockdown in the state from March 24.

Apart from the government facilities, Rio said private hospitals have been encouraged to install and augment testing facilities and assured that government was taking all possible steps to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in its various dimensions though a lot more was needed to be done. 

To deal with spike in positive cases he said COVID Care Centres were set up and also government and private health and medical facilities were being made available for medical needs of other illnesses as well.

To tackle the economic challenges, Rio said a Strategic Committee for Economic Affairs headed by him was constituted and subsequently a core group consisting of experts in the field and other stakeholders was constituted to work out strategies and action plans to strengthen the state’s economy.

Pressing need to create job for returnees: The chief minister expressed concern that despite the state being faced with multiple challenges, there was a pressing need to create employment opportunities for a large number of returnees numbering over 30,000 as most of them had suffered layoffs in their primary location of employment.

As an immediate measure he said a digital platform-- Nagaland job links portal was launched by the department of Labor & Employment, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to help connect job seekers and employers for placement in the private sector.

Flagship Hornbill Fest with modifications: With state tourism gaining prominence across the globe, Rio said that the state, despite facing numerous challenges due to COVID-19, has decided to maintain continuity by organizing the flagship event of Hornbill festival this year with a few modifications.

He said it was crucial to re-strategize in order to protect Nagaland’s acclaimed status as a tourism destination through Hornbill Festival.

Job cards under MGNREGA issued to people including returnees: Rio also informed that the of Rural Development department, taking note of the COVID-19 crisis, took a step ahead by providing giving job cards under MGNREGA to people including returnees willing to work and earn.

He said 50% of Grant-in-aid to VDBs amounting to Rs. 17.50 crore for the year 2019-20 was released, which played a significant role in helping villagers to get essential commodities and setting up of temporary Quarantine Centers at village level.

He also mentioned amidst the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Agri and allied departments had responded aggressively by scaling up efforts so as to obviate any farm and consumer crisis.

He said an amount of Rs 30 crore was also released to the districts under Local Area Development Programme. 

School education: As schools continued to remain closed, Rio said that School Education department has taken various measures to ensure that students were not affected. The department has introduced innovative education programmes by using the electronic/digital media such as tele/radio online education, online evaluation portal, teachers app and continuous learning and monitoring portal.

He said these initiatives will ensure that children continue learning even under these difficult times and this proves that the dedicated efforts can bring about a paradigm shift in the quality of education especially in government schools. 

Law & order: The chief minister said that the law and order situation in the state has remained by and large normal and under control as proactive steps taken by the district administration and police all along have ensured a peaceful atmosphere.

He also acknowledged the role of the state police in playing a crucial role to combat the COVID pandemic. He highlighted major contributions like converting the Ganeshnagar special economic zone, Dhansiripar, Dimapur and operationalizing the largest quarantine facility in the state solely managed by the officers, men and women of Nagaland Police.

Rio also congratulated the youngest district of the state- Noklak for celebrating Independence Day for the first time and conveyed his wishes to the people of Noklak and exuded hope that there will be all round development in all spheres of activity. 

Concluding his Independence speech, the chief minister appealed the citizens to work in their own walks of life with the same zeal and spirit during such a crisis

He said the determination and collective efforts will not only help overcome this crisis but will take Nagaland to greater progress and prosperity in months and years to come.

The Independence Day celebration was marked with a minimum gathering. Few cabinet ministers, MP Rajya Sabha, senior government officials attended the celebration.

Earlier, on his arrival at the venue, chief minister Neiphiu Rio unfurled the National Flag and took the Rashtriya Salute.

Guard of Honour was led by parade commander Watichuchang Jamir, Dy. Comdt. 4th NAP Thizama and second-in-command Avikishe Sema, Asst. Comdt. 10th NAP (IR) Zhadima. The contingents for the Guard of Honour were 4th NAP Bn, 10th NAP (IR) Bn and Nagaland Police Central Brass Band.

The event concluded with cultural programme/performances of Naga traditional folk song by Tetseo Sisters, Naga traditional warrior dance by Ethnic Future, a cover of ‘When you Believe’ by Mengu Soukhrie and Obed Kath and an original fusion of Naga traditional folk song with modern music Zongza by Run Monday Run. The state level Independence Day celebration culminated with the beating of the retreat by Nagaland Police Central Brass Band at the Secretariat Plaza.


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