Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Aberration of economic vision

On many occasions, high level government functionaries have been lamenting over the fact that people in Nagaland want development but when it comes to giving land( under acquisition) for development, they refuse to part even with “an inch of land”. Unfortunately, the state government itself has not shown the political will to fulfil its constitutional obligation with regard to ensuring that land is made available for development. The most popular plea being used to justify refusal to vacate encroached land or agree to provide land under acquisition are the protective clauses under Article 371A of the Indian constitution. While all other north eastern states, even including tribal hill states such as Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh and to an extent hill districts of Tripura, have provided land needed for development of infrastructure such as four-lane highways, airports or railways; in Nagaland it is just the reverse. It may be noted that that Mizoram, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh also have a similar Article regarding ownership of land. These state governments have had no problem with acquisition of land and that is why many central projects have added to the pace of development. In Nagaland, its only airport and railway station at Dimapur, the latter being among the oldest in the region are way behind airports and railway station of neighbouring states. Nagaland Post has been highlighting about why development of these two very vital links have almost come to a grinding halt. The reason is due to encroachment of and the main factors is because the local authorities have failed to nip trouble in the bud. Even officers at the airport and railway have to share the blame for allowing the matter to worsen. Recently the issue of encroachment of land at the airport figured in the 12th session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly. The minister in-charge disclosed the names of 22 persons who had encroached airport land. Thirteen out of the 22 had approached the lower civil court and obtained a stay against the eviction issued on them by the district authorities at Dimapur in 2016. In response, the minister said the state petitioned the Gauhati High Court Kohima bench against the injection in 2022. The minister expressed the hope that the High Court would pass a favourable judgement and after which the state will issue eviction order. Since early 2000s, Nagaland Post has been highlighting the issue of stagnation of development of Dimapur airport, while newer airports have undergone drastic improvements. That some of the encroachers had obtained a stay from the civil court at Dimapur in 2016 while the state government finally woke up from slumber and filed a petition in the high court only in 2022, exposes lack of seriousness. The same is the case with Dimapur railway station where no development can take place due to encroachment. On record, the highest revenue for NFR is from Guwahati with around 20,000 train passengers daily. On the other hand, the second highest revenue for NFR is from Dimapuir with a little over 4000 passengers daily. Lumding junction comes third with around 3000 passengers daily. The state government owes an explanation as to why it has been inactive with regard to land issues at the airport and railway station at Dimapur since these are vital for trade, travel and tourism- the 3 ‘Ts’ for economic development of the state.