Sunday, August 14, 2022

A purge is required in the NOA

The allegations hurled by retired DGP K. Kire against the NOA are very serious in nature. However, the rejoinder issued by the NOA was pitiful and full of personal jibes. Embarrassingly the NOA’s rejoinder did not address the real issue. Rather, it further damaged the credibility of the August body. While the Hon’ble CM should take the credit for affiliating NOA with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), this hardly merits that the NOA should be run like a personal proprietorship or a family business. The Olympic Charter states that “Recognising that sports occurs within the framework of society, sports organisations within the Olympic movement shall apply political neutrality (as outlined in Fundamental Principles of Olympism).”
The problem with our state is that whether it’s the state government or public institutions like the NOA, everything becomes a family enterprise…or affairs of some political party or the other. The President of NOA is the Hon’ble Chief Minister and the Secretary General is also the Advisor to the Chief Minister. While credit should be given where it’s due, its high time both the President and Secretary General step down in the larger interest of the sporting community. We need genuine and passionate people to helm the affairs of sports in the state, not political figures with partisan outlook. If having a multi-storied NOA building can take us to sporting heights then I am all for it. The point is the state government is least interested in promoting sports but more interested in generating monetary benefits in the guise of promoting sports. Evidence for this assertion is galore. In the last 20 years or so the state government has been constructing stadiums everywhere with zero sporting output. The Roman colosseum called Dimapur stadium is the best example of our non-existent sports policy. The facilities in Sovima Cricket Stadium are pathetic despite the colossal construction costs – which interestingly was hiked up 12 times over its original cost. Now we’re hearing that an Astro-turf ground is being constructed in Chümoukedima Police Complex. That almost 100-200 prime teak trees were uprooted (and perhaps disposed of at some price) in 2021 for this project is another story which the NGOs and a certain newly floated political party may investigate. Our boys and girls are bringing laurels in various sporting events. Be it wrestling, body building, tennis, arm-wrestling, MMA and other contact sports, etc., many are excelling through sheer work and their enterprise. What is most disheartening is that the state government is unable to even recognize their worth. Manipur government is not afraid to reward their sporting stars. Hockey players Nilakanta Sharma and P. Sushila Chanu were awarded the posts of Dy. Director and Asst. Director respectively in the Sports Department, Juoka Sushila Devi as an Inspector of Police and weightlifter Mirabai Chanu as an Addl. Superintendent of Police besides Lakhs of monetary benefits. Crores have been doled out as rewards to their sportspersons, while in Nagaland, the state government even to acknowledge our sportspersons in the newspapers is a herculean task. The state government should declare in black and white as to how the NOA acquired the building. Who or which firm constructed the building and at what cost? Apparently, the new building did not fall down from heaven. The NOA in their rejoinder to Mr. Kire talks loudly about transparency but is it too hard for the NOA or the government to furnish answers to these queries? Reading between the lines it seems that the NOA is trying too hard to suppress facts which is understandable. For instance, the new Chief Minister’s Residential Complex was constructed at a whopping cost of Rs. 120 Cr (according to social media posts which the state government didn’t care to refute) which is nothing but application of ‘Cost Escalation Technique’, the same technique which was implemented for the construction of Sovima Cricket Stadium.
The legacy of NPF/NDPP government in the last 20 years or so is the invention of the wonderful strategy called the ‘Cost Escalation Technique.’ Under this innovative technique, contracts worth thousands have been awarded to cronies, sons, and relatives to build stadiums, offices, shopping centres (like the one in Forest Colony, Dimapur), etc., perhaps with the rider that none of these buildings should be fully constructed! The apparent motive is that later on the Central government will be approached at the appropriate time to dole out more funds for these unfinished projects! Thus, it’s easy to picture that the perpetual fattening of the bank balances of these people will continue which in turn will ensure the perpetual rule of the people still in power! The same ‘Cost Escalation Technique’ is being applied in the construction of the Gauhati High Court and the Medical College both in Kohima. The sad reality is that Nagas love darkness even as Karbi Anglong marches ahead. Perhaps the disdain the Hon’ble CM Himanta Biswas Sarma has for the Nagas is not unfounded. To put it bluntly he gave a tight slap to our Naga politicians, and rightly so.
Potso Angami
7th Mile, Chümoukedima

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