Thursday, October 6, 2022

Neiphiu Rio highlights issues concerning Nagaland at NITI meet

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio on Sunday highlighted several issues concerning Nagaland at the seventh meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog at New Delhi, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Speaking at the meeting, Rio said the State government, with support from the Centre, had been consistently focusing on changing the agriculture practices while retaining their traditional organic nature.
This, he claimed had yielded good results in terms of production of food grains that jumped from 62,000 MT in 1963-64 to 7,38,260 MT presently.
Rio stated that jhum cultivation was ecologically sustainable, efficiently used available natural resources and adapted diverse cropping patterns based on villagers’ specific needs. With increasing pressure of population, he admitted that the traditional practices were disrupted and became less ecologically sustainable.
As rightly recognised by the Central government, he said focus on crop diversification was essential for India and was a fundamental requirement in hill States like Nagaland for safeguarding its agro-biodiversity/ecologically sustainable farming as well as doubling farmers’ income.
He assured that this continued to be the State government’s focus, adding a number of indigenous varieties such as ginger, kolar and potato had been identified to add to the national production basket.
Among other issues highlighted at the meeting, Rio further mentioned that the State government’s interventions in the recent past had been instrumental in local farmers diversifying into agro-forestry and plantation crops like rubber, tea and coffee. He said Nagaland Coffee had also found good market abroad.
ULBs: Further, Rio said that the state government has taken numerous measures to enhance revenue sources of the Urban Local Bodies. These include rationalising levying of user charges for various services provided, revenue generation through projects such as shopping complexes, multilevel parking, multi-purpose halls, etc.
Rio also pointed out that the State was in early stages of urban development and it may take some time before property tax would be acceptable to the people of the State. While stating that Constitutional provisions for tribal rights also needed to be upheld, and in order not to deprive the Urban Local Bodies of any development grant flowing from the Central Government, Rio suggested not to link to property tax collection criteria for a period of five years.
Rio also reminded NITI Aayog about its earlier request for important projects like Greenfield airport at Ciethu, Kohima; Trans-Nagaland Highway (Foothill Road); Multi–disciplinary Sports Complex at Dimapur and Power projects.
Ciethu airport: He said that the proposed airport was not only required to boost regional connectivity, to take full advantage of the economic opportunities opening up under the Act East policy initiative, but was also important from a strategic and defence perspective keeping in view the nearness to Indo-Myanmar border.
Foothill Road: Rio said the trans-Nagaland Highway or the Foothill Road, besides touching seven out of sixteen districts of Nagaland, was crucial for the State as it would provide connectivity to the resource rich 3000 sq. km of foothill areas of Nagaland.
It will further create a market route for trade and commerce with neighboring states and rest of the country, he added. In this regard, Rio requested the Centre that the road be sanctioned at the earliest in the interest of faster economic development and regional connectivity.
Power: The chief minister pointed out that the hydro power potential of the State was yet to be exploited. However, he said the State government was dependent on other states for supply of power to the State.
He, therefore, said that the government proposed to take up six projects for strengthening its power system generating adequate power in the state and earn revenue by supplying it to other states.