Combating Rampant Corruption
If you are wondering if the government of Nagaland will ever complete dozens of incomplete projects that are lying unattended for years in the state, the answer is “most probably not”. The state’s finances audit report for the year ended March 31, 2018 that was recently released by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, has opened a Pandora’s Box of rampant corruption. It detected a whopping 311 incomplete projects undertaken by several departments, involving expenditure of INR 1737.68 crore. A total of 29 cases of misappropriation and mismanagements of public funds amounting to INR 178.96 crore were detected during the year 2013-18 and it involved 13 government departments led by School Education department at INR 82.96 crore, followed by Power, Health and Family Welfare, Tourism, Public Works Department and several others. It was found that the developmental projects funded by the North Eastern Council (NEC) were also not spared of fund misappropriation. The contractor of Longding-Nokjan road in Mon district was said to have been paid the full amount stipulated for the project but six items of works were found to be unexecuted. Similar fund embezzlement was detected in several other projects, including Viswema-Kidima-Zuketsa-Tadubi road and upgrading of Nursing School at Naga Hospital in Kohima. These are just the tip of the iceberg. List of incomplete and unexecuted projects in the state are several pages long.
It is painful to see a long line of developmental projects that could have immensely benefitted the people of the state becoming an eyesore and haunted spots in some cases. It is even more painful to see corruption thriving unchecked right under our nose; the so called public leaders doing nothing about it; and the corrupt getting away without being punished — year after year. The corrupt are perhaps immune to guilty conscience or know that it would pass after a brief public furore like in the past, or that “their” lawmakers would bail them out by breaking the law. They are not afraid of the law. No wonder corruption continues unabated in the state and basic amenities are in shambles.
But corruption pandemic in the state should be stopped immediately if we want development and progressive society. For this, the state government should have the political will to root out this social malady in all departments and set a precedent by booking those responsible for paralysing infrastructure sector which is vital for any economy to grow. Lawmakers, officials working in various government departments, contractors and public leaders, who siphon off public funds and hamper the financial health of the state, should be penalised according to the law of the land. Besides ensuring that developmental projects are carried out, delay in work execution and completion needs to be checked as it leads to cost escalation and put additional financial burden on the state exchequer. The general public too should remain vigilant and report to the concerned authorities if any anomaly is found in management of public funds or execution of projects instead of remaining silent just because it could affect someone they know. Corruption has no face and should be eradicated vehemently.