CM opens up on ‘illegal immigrants’ issue
Kohima, Oct. 9 (EMN): Breaking his silence on the burning issue of unchecked influx of illegal immigrants into Nagaland, Chief Minister TR Zeliang has said on Monday that he was ‘aware of the repercussions that the Nagas are facing today,’ but candidly asserted that “we (Nagas) are to blame”.
Zeliang did not mince words to put across his observation that the ‘import’ of illegal immigrants and the growth in their numbers over the years was because Nagas give them work, as they (Nagas) do not like to work as labourers, builders, masons etc.
Zeliang said that the state government, aware that ‘this dangerous trend’ is ruining the state’s economy, had declared 2016-17 as the Year of Construction Workers (YoCW), giving emphasis on ‘skilled workforce development’ of the youth.
The chief minister was addressing the Village Development Board (VDB) Conference 2017 as the chief guest here on Monday at SIRD Hall in Kohima.
He pointed out that lack of a skilled work force, to a great extent, has limited the scope of development, particularly in villages. With capacity building occupying a slot in the component of the VDB, Zeliang underscored for trainings and orientation programmes imparting knowledge, technology, methodology etc. pertaining to construction works are conducted to equip the youth population.
Stating that the government has engaged with the YouthNet and Zynorique to conduct phase-wise training programmes across the state under YoCW, he called upon the VDBs to co-ordinate with the two agencies as and when they were in their respective districts. He is of the view that once Nagas themselves learn to take up the tasks that the illegal immigrants are hired for, problems relating to the latter would decrease and would also enhance the state’s economy.
The government is not equipped to give training to everyone that is why in the first phase, 50 youth are being trained from one district, he stated. Towards this, Zeliang stressed the need to strengthen connectivity between the VDBs and VCCs with the chief minister, saying if the VDBs and village authorities identify aspiring youth but are left wanting of trainers, they should directly approach the latter or the state government.
He also informed that the contractors of the Kohima to Dimapur four-lane road recently floated an advertisement announcing to train 350 people for the works but only three Nagas applied for the training. “It is a shame. We don’t have people to work. Even when people are offering to train us, we do not have anyone wanting to be trained,” Zeliang lamented. He feels that Nagas are learned as well as talented but they do not utilize their knowledge or their skills enough. “If we start utilizing ourselves- our knowledge and skills, those who came to our state to work and earn will slowly move away….only then, our economy will improve,” he stated.
On corruption, the chief minister said everyone is going against corruption but there is no concrete resolution or suggestion as to how to curb or remove corruption completely. “The system alone can change corruption. If the system is not right then even if you keep blaming others, corruption will continue. Where the system is not right, complain about it to the authorities and we will go for a better system,” the chief minister said.
He reminded of the risk that his government took to implement the Food Security Act which was launched in July 2016 while other Northeast states remained hesitant, and the challenge that he threw then, for the villages that do not receive the supplies on time to raise complaints. Stating that there has not been any complaint so far, he reiterated his commitment to address any complaint raised by the people on any issue.
Zeliang also reminded the gathering of the recently held North East Connectivity hosted by the state government which resolved to improve road connectivity across the NE states starting from Nagaland. In this line, he stated, the state government was organizing a colloquium on road connectivity in the state October 10. Here, he urged upon all the villages to play their role in cooperating with the government particularly in matters relating to land and monitoring of works.
Stating that rural economy is the strength of the state and the country, the chief minister said the central and state governments relentlessly focus on rural development, which is invariably linked with poverty alleviation and uplift of the living conditions of the rural masses. He said the mandate of Rural Development department is to ensure that, apart from the implementation of the central and state programmes for poverty reduction and uplift livelihoods of the rural poor, it has to also necessarily take into consideration the socio-economic background and historical factors that have been responsible for the slow growth and development rate in Nagaland’s rural areas.
“With the resources made available from the various govt. of India flagship programmes and state government schemes being implemented over the years, we ought to take stock of our achievements and take it further beyond with appropriate strategies for sustained and inclusive development…. We are not a young state anymore. Nagaland is 54 years old, and our VDBs 40,” Zeliang stated.
He observed that implementation of MGNREGA is having direct impact on the livelihoods of the poor by way of providing much needed employment to poor rural households and simultaneously creating durable assets in the villages. But now the focus, he said, should be on how best the MGNREGA programme can be implemented to our advantage to reap optimal benefits by converging/ dovetailing with other programmes. “Our experience on MGNREGA convergence has not been very encouraging. Convergence of activities with Horticulture, Forest, Land Resources, Roads & Bridges Departments and other allied departments must be taken up on priority based on the feasibility and every effort must be made to ensure successful implementation of these projects,” he stressed.
The chief minister also pointed the need to properly document the success stories of projects taken up and best practices under various programmes and same shared for larger benefit by adopting similar projects and replicating the methods applied thereof so that the projects can be taken up in large scale depending on the feasibility of the area. This, he feels would further strengthen the outcome of the programmes and help tap properly and investments made in a more meaningful way for sustainable development.
He further called upon the VDBs to ensure that social audit is conducted at regular intervals in all the villages so as to bring about transparency and accountability in the implementation of various programmes.
“It is of utmost importance that the VDBs as a time tested institution must live upto to the expectations of the people by effectively ensuring better delivery of services for the benefit of the rural masses,” he said.