Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio on Wednesday said that the state cabinet will take up for discussion the matter concerning women reservation in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) soon.
Informing that the recommendations of the committee constituted on women reservation, headed by chief secretary J Alam, had already submitted its report Rio said the matter will be taken up in the next cabinet meeting.
Speaking at the inauguration of a new office building of the Directorate of Municipal Affairs here on Wednesday, Rio asserted that the implementation of the 74th Amendment was a constitutional necessity and that women reservation and taxation in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) cannot be exempted.
He cautioned that unless civic facilities were improved in urban areas, including implementation of women reservation in urban local bodies (ULBs), the State would be barred from receiving financial grants.
Rio said ULBs were constituted under 74th amendment, while panchayati raj (rural local bodies) was under 73rd Amendment and people should understand that both were different.
Mentioning that Supreme Court had recently given the state government six weeks time to report back on how it proposed to implement 33% reservation for women, Rio said that the government was holding consultations with the tribal bodies and the civil societies and will be submitting the recommendations to the Supreme Court.
Rio, however, said if the Supreme Court did not accept the State government’s proposal, there would be hindrance and might even lead to conflict again.
Regretting that people in the State did not want to pay taxes, he said even Nagas, who were exempted from taxation under Article 371 (A), would be taxed by ULBs for the facilities provided to them.
He said citizens of any urban area would have to pay taxes for maintenance and upkeep of the town, but lamented that Nagas did not wish to pay even for their town’s maintenance. He cautioned that unless the State fulfilled the mandatory reform, it would not get grant even if 15th Finance Commission agreed. He urged the Municipal Affairs department to create awareness in all towns in this regard.
Congratulating the department for the new building, he also asked it introduce building by-laws so that a uniform system could be followed.
He also called for incorporating Naga designs and motifs in buildings, while hoping that the new building would boost the morale of employees and improve the working atmosphere.
Mentioning that there was a mad rush towards urbanisation, Rio informed the gathering the decadal urban growth in the State was 67.38%, which was double the national average of 31.18%.
But even though there was a mad rush, he regretted that not many people understood the concept of ULBs.
He explained that when there was heavy rush in towns, it was imperative that there should be proper regulations, including town planning and building by-laws, else he said the urban areas would become unliveable.
He recalled how Kohima town was once rated as India’s second most unliveable town, but it was ranked 27 recently, thereby showing tremendous improvement.
He mentioned that many changes had taken place in all towns, especially in district headquarters, while stressing that public awareness and participation had to go hand-in-hand.
Expressing concern over traffic congestion in the State Capital, the chief minister suggested the department to identify spaces where all localised events could be held. Citing the instance of traffic jams throughout the town, he remarked that if markets were concentrated in one area, then citizens would have to rush to that particular area.
He also called for constructing farmers’ markets so that women vendors did not have to sit on the road side and where the farmers could bring their produce, sell and pay taxes for the facilities provided, which would ease traffic. He asked the department to identify government land, buildings or even buy land in this regard.
Urging municipal and town councils to develop assets, Rio directed the department to also work out a formula on how to use these else, he said these should be privatised to prevent them from becoming eyesores.
He further asked the department to work on waste management, improve cleanliness, enhance the liveability ranking and display proper signboards on roads.
He also suggested the department to ensure that old buildings were well maintained, identify a colour of the building so that different colonies could have different building colours and constructed with Naga motifs, adding that would will be big eye-catcher for tourists while also preserve Naga identity.
In his address, Urban development & municipal affairs (UD&MA) adviser Dr Niekiesalie Nicky Kire hoped that with the inauguration of the new building, the officers and staff would be able to work more efficiently and effectively
He also informed the gathering that the building had an emergency exit route for fire, lifts and ramps for differently-abled persons so that the office was more easily accessible for all sections of people.
Speaking on the occasion, additional chief engineer (urban engineering wing) Kevide Nakhro said the new three-storey building had 30 rooms, including a conference hall, mini conference hall, library and other utilities like public toilets, foyers, balcony, etc, in each floor.
He said the project was sanctioned under SPA during 2013-2014 at an approved cost of Rs 507.31 lakh with the funding pattern 90:10.
With incorporation of additional items, Nakhro said an additional fund of Rs 77.69 was required, making the overall cost Rs 585 lakh. The building was constructed by M/s K Nakhro and Sons.
UD&MA principal secretary I Himato Zhimomi chaired the programme.
SIT report on Oting to be made public after Centre’s nod: Rio
Meanwhile, chief minister Rio said that report of the special investigation team (SIT) set up to probe the Oting killings can be made public once the Central government gives permission to prosecute the accused persons.
While informing that the state government has received the SIT report, Rio said it (SIT) will file a case for prosecution of the accused persons in the incident. And once Centre gives permission, the investigation report will be made public, Rio said.
“SIT will now file a case for prosecution of the accused persons involved in the incident. It will require the permission of Government of India. Once it is done, the investigation report will be in public domain,” Rio said.
To a query on the State government’s decision to lift the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition (NLTP) Act, Rio vaguely replied that the government had given its recommendations and “all the cabinet decisions, NLA resolutions are the stand of the government”.