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Op-Ed

Dubious achievements of dan government

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By EMN Updated: Nov 29, 2014 10:33 pm
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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) led by the NPF first came to power in 2003. In its 12 (twelve) years of power, the State has witnessed a phenomenal change in every aspect imaginable, all for worse culminating into the present financial crisis with deficit figures of 1252.45 crores ending March 2014. The DAN conglomeration has repeatedly plundered the State Exchequer under various pretexts in the form of Machiavellian programmes and policies which were devised to benefit only the ruling class while the common man reels under severe hardships and difficulties. The DAN Government has introduced a duplicitous legacy, the scars of which will haunt our future generations to come. On the eve of 51st statehood day, the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee brings out some dubious achievements of the DAN government that has really made a mockery of governance over the past decade.

Road Shows: While the roads of the state are at its worst conditions without any signs of improvement despite generous funding by the centre running into thousands of crores, the DAN Government introduced the “Road Shows” in 2009 to cover all 11 districts in Nagaland by deviously coinciding the Road Shows with the major festival of the tribe inhabiting a particular district. Needless to say, road shows for the public were conducted during the day time while the main attraction was the entertainment of the VVIPs in the evening. These Road Shows were organized at the expense of the State Exchequer amounting to crores of rupees which only benefitted the VVIPs in the form of questionable ‘entertainment’ characterized by open flow of liquor, promotion of local brew and drinking in public by VVIPs which made a mockery of Nagaland being a ‘Dry State and brought about further decline in moral and ethical standards of society.

Hornbill Festival: The Festival which has become an annual event beginning 1st December coinciding with Statehood Day now stretches into 10 days of pure merrymaking activities burdening the already depleted state exchequer. The irony of the festival is that the term ‘Dry State’ ceases to exist during this festival. Surprisingly, the Church which so vociferously defends the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act, 1989 chooses to remain a mute spectator making one wonder as to whether VVIPs and revellers drinking banned liquor in a so-called dry State during festivals is justified while the common man drinking liquor at other times is a grave sin in the eyes of the Church. Over the years, the month of December in particular has seen numerous accidents resulting in loss of precious lives due to sheer over-indulgence in merry making. The streets in Kohima more or less resemble a race track with vehicles recklessly zooming around often driven by youngsters under the influence of alcohol and other intoxicants.

Infamous Slogans: After the DAN Government came to power, it went into a slogan overdrive to supplement its Machiavellian programmes and policies. Though it was claimed that these programmes were in the interest of the people, more often than not, it was the politicians, VVIPs, bureaucrats and close associates of the ruling class who have enjoyed these benefits to the maximum while the poor were left high and dry. Some of these slogans are:

  1. Years of Youth Empowerment (2004-2005)
  2. Years of Farmers (2006-2007)
  3. Year of Capacity Building (2008-2009)
  4. Year of Entrepreneurs (2010-2011)
  5. Land of Festivals
  6. Back to the land

The hype surrounding these slogans failed to achieve anything except rehabilitating NPF youth workers and for other youths it was another round of lost hopes and dreams. The Year of Entrepreneurs (2010-11 and 2011-12) takes the cake. It was announced with much fanfare on April 30th, 2010 and accordingly Entrepreneur Awareness Programme (EAP) was held in all 11 Districts and 1000 entrepreneurs selected but the Government failed to implement the promised package leading to unrest and even picketing of the Industries Directorate at Kohima.

Entertainment Government: The obsession with fun loving and merrymaking activities by the DAN government has reduced agencies like Music Task Force under Directorate of Youth Resources & Sports to deviate from its originally acclaimed purpose to facilitate, create, nurture, support and develop latent talent and resources towards professionalism and livelihood in any and every facet of the music industry. MTF has now become synonymous with organising musical entertainment for VVIPs and its benefits are reaped only by a few musicians and artistes. Recently, the NPF led DAN Government spent a whopping 164.11 lakhs on Nagaland contingent comprising of 45 performers, 5 officials and a production team which left on July 24, 2014 to participate in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh, Scotland from August 1 – 23, 2014. The irony of the matter is that the Chief Minister of Nagaland had already tabled a deficit Budget of 1252.45 crores on July 22nd, 2014 during the 5th session (Budget) of 12th Nagaland Legislative Assembly.

 

Palatial Office Buildings: During 2003-2011, the State Government constructed numerous Government offices and complexes. In all these construction works, abnormally high cost of project and enormous escalation of revised rates was granted to select contractors which caused colossal loss to the State Exchequer. All these construction works have been approved at very high cost whilst most of the works were completed at unbelievably higher rate after revision of the approved cost. The accompanying table below will illustrate the government-contractor nexus to deplete the State coffers.

 Construction of Various Office Buildings at Kohima

Ser. No Name of Department Work Order Amount

( in lakh)

Revised

Amount

% Increased
1. Construction of PHQ Office Building at Kohima 1426.30 2280.30 59%
2. Construction of Vigilance Office at Kohima 206.40 466.43 125%
3. Construction of CM Residence in New Sect. 1573.08 3165.00 101%
4. Construction of Shopping Complex and Parking Plaza at Forest Colony, Dimapur. 1849.10

 

2580.82 39%
5. Construction of Urban Dev. Directorate Office Building at Kohima. 510.96 Nil
6 Construction of RD Directorate Office Building Kohima. 27.80 164.37 491%
7. Construction of Works & Housing Office Complex at Kohima 983.72 3866.00 293%
8. Const. of Forest & Environment Directorate Office Building at KMA. 700.00 826.00 18%
9. Construction of Staff Quarters at Forest Colony, Dimapur 2143.38 4167.61 95%
10. Construction of Treasures and Accounts Directorate Building at Kohima. 445.58 1307.16 293%
11. Construction of Industries & Commerce Directorate Office Building at Kohima 822.30 1885.00 129%
12. Construction of IPR Directorate at Kohima 412.25 694.45 68%
13. Construction of H& Family Welfare Dte Office Building at Kohima. No amount stated in w/order 3500.00
14. Construction of Banquette Hall, Raj Bhavan 161.27 1070.00 564%
15 Construction of Cricket Ground at Sovima 829.46 7259.00 775%
16. Construction of Home Guard Office, Kohima 203.02 838.00 312%
17 Construction of Economics & Statistics Office at Kohima. 317.99 494.00 55%
18 Construction of SIRD Office at Kohima. 20.66 71.91 248%
19 Construction of Land Resources Development Office at Kohima. 59.40 123.65 108%
20 Construction of Horticulture Office at Kohima. No amount mentioned in the w/order 345.62
21 Construction of Sericulture Office at Kohima. 21.50

 

111.42 418%
22 Construction of Science & Technology Office at Kohima. 277.63 873.28 214%
23 Construction of Irrigation & Flood Control Central Office. 102.17 539.25 427%
24 Construction of Tourism Office at Kohima. 67.62 67.62
25 Construction of Higher Education Office at Kohima. 203.02 329.63 62%
26 Construction of Jail Office at Kohima 243.76 400.20 72%
27 Construction of NPSC Office at Kohima. 280.00 768.65 174%
28 Construction of Fire & Emergency Services Office at Kohima. 71.41 71.41
29 Construction of Administrative Training Institute Office Building at Kma 260.30 318.83 22%
30 Construction of SCERT office Building at Kohima 277.78 585.62 110%
31 Construction of Fishery Office Building at Kohima 20.57 165.00 702%

 

State Exchequer as Private Account: The centrally sponsored schemes especially the Central Flagship Programme that does not fall within the purview of the State budget are blatantly misused. In the name of extending financial assistance, public money has been loaned out to various individuals though there are no provisions to advance personal loans from scheme funds. The CAG report ending March 2011 indicted the Horticulture Department which loaned Rs. 80,00,000 to the then Parliamentary Secretary, Horticulture Shri R. Khing, Rs. 40,00,000 (In two instalments of 20 lakhs each) to one Gwarno, and Rs. 1,40,000 to one Rongsentemjen from the Central fund of Rs. 64 crores released by the Small Farmers Agri-Consortium (SFAC) Delhi during 2008-2010 to the  Horticulture Department for implementation of various components of Mini Mission II under Horticulture Technology Mission (HTM).

 

The CAG Report observed that such acts indicated complete absence of internal control mechanism in the Department and held the procedure for sanction of personal loan was prima facie illegal and in blatant violation of financial rules. The Department subsequently issued an Office Memorandum in August 2011 stopping such advances and loans in future.

Protector of criminals and corrupt people: The NPF led DAN Government has become a safe haven for criminals and corrupt people who find protection from being investigated and prosecuted for crimes they have committed. During 2013 assembly elections, the Home Minister was arrested for possession of illegal arms and ammunition, liquor and unaccounted cash in crores. Inspite of the grievous nature of offences committed by the then Home Minister, he rewarded with a cabinet berth of DAN III and continues to roam scot-free.

In another dubious achievement, the then Minister for School Education & SCERT, Shri Nyeiwang Konyak admitted in the Floor of the Assembly on October 11, 2010 that he had taken Rs. 51 lakhs out of a total of Rs. 5,35,15,000/- released for grant-in-aid to Government recognized private schools for infrastructure development during 2010-2011. The Minister himself signed the break-up statement for this amount which is in violation of financial rules. He also admitted taking Rs. 11.18 lakhs and also admitted that Rs. 5,00,000/- each was given to Commissioner & Secretary SE and Director SE. The ridiculous reasons the Minister gave in all these cases was that the amounts were used for attending various school functions as Chief Guest. Besides, Rs. 20,00,000/- was also shown to have been used for interview of GT and PT teachers. Despite having asked the Chief Minister to take appropriate action against the then Minister, all appeals have fallen on deaf ears and the former Minister is roaming scot-free.

Seizure of Unaccounted Cash: During 2013 assembly elections, apart from the then Home Minister caught will illegal arms and unaccounted cash, the NPF Candidate from 49 Tamlu assembly constituency, H. Nyemli Phom was caught with one crore of unaccounted cash as he alighted from a chartered helicopter at  AR Helipad at Longleng. The NPF candidate had not given prior information about the helicopter trip to the district administration and SP Longleng. This was in total violation of the Model Code of Conduct and ECI rules that expenditure ceiling of a candidate was Rs 8 lakhs and anybody found carrying Rs 50,000 or above in cash during the election period would be liable for explanation irrespective of carrying it for political, business or personal purposes. Although the candidate was questioned by the Police and Assam Rifles about the source and intended purpose of the money, no action was taken against the NPF candidate who is also roaming scot-free till date.

 

Rewarding Corrupt: The present Minister for Agriculture, Dr. N. Benjongliba embezzled crores of rupees from the Horticulture Department during his tenure as Director Horticulture and Mission Director Horticulture Technology Mission – North East (HTM-NE). He was relieved from the post of Mission Director (HTM-NE) on 15-12-2013 while he voluntarily retired from the post of Director, Horticulture on 10-01-2013 to contest the ensuing General Assembly elections. During his tenure in the aforementioned posts, particularly that of Mission Director (TM-NE), irregularities involving massive amount of financial transactions bypassing the authority of the Drawing and Disbursing Officer (DDO) of the concerned Department are apparent from the official records available. Despite relinquishing the post of Director, he continued to operate an Axis Bank account in the name of Mission Director (HTM-NE) to transact crores of rupees till February 2014.

 

While the Horticulture Department in a response to an RTI application categorically denied having any official knowledge of the said Bank Account, Dr. Benjongliba claimed it to be an official account and withdrew Rs 30,00,000/- cash by Self Cheque No. 76128 on 17/01/2013, Rs 15,00,000 cash by Self Cheque No. 76129 on 18/01/2013 and Rs 15,00,000 cash by Self Cheque No. 76130 on 19/01/2013 (Amounting to Rs. 60 lakhs in total) when he had already resigned from his post to contest assembly election and the Election Model Code of Conduct was in force. Although this issue has already been highlighted by the Hon’ble CLP Leader in the media, the tainted Minister continues to enjoy immunity and cabinet berth in the present NPF led DAN Government.

 Failure to implement Lokayukta: When Congress MLA Shri C. Apok Jamir introduced the Lokayukta Bill in 2012 as a Private Member’s Bill in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, the same was outrightly rejected by the NPF led DAN government exposing their intention of blocking anti-corruption mechanisms in the state. The Congress in its 2013 assembly election Manifesto had included the setting up of Lokayukta in the state to prevent corruption but the NPF has so far managed to shelve the idea for fear of getting ensnarled by the anti corruption mechanism. However, the long arms of law will one day or the other, catch up with those leaders who indulge in blatant corruption and misrule. Recent developments in other parts of the country where political leaders like former Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalitha and RJD Chief Laloo Prasad Yadav who were convicted by the Court and sentenced to prison after more than 17-20 years on charges of corruption serves a grim reminder to all corrupt leaders.

Misuse of 712 Crores meant for 6th RoP: In 2010, the Congress led UPA Government at the Centre granted Rs. 712 crores tied to the grant for Nagaland to meet the expenditure for implementation of 6th RoP. However, the total amount was not spent as RoP arrears but was compounded to the Employees GPF Account leaving a huge financial burden for the future while the Government enjoyed the spill-over amount from the 712 crores. Out of Rs. 712 crores, the Finance Department distributed only Rs 472.55 crores to 72 Departments while the remaining amount of Rs. 239,44,26,000/- (Two Hundred Thirty Nine Crores, Forty Four Lakhs & Twenty Six Thousand) vanished without a trace.

 

It may be mentioned that the 5th RoP was implemented in 2002 in the State of by the Congress Government without any assistance from the BJP led NDA Government at the Centre. Due to the unfriendly attitude of the Central Government at that time, the implementation of the 5th RoP led to a deficit of Rs. 365 crores. However, this deficit was waived off by former Prime Minister of India Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee during his visit to Nagaland in October 2003 as a peace bonus. For the first time in the history of Nagaland, the State Finance Minister presented a surplus budget of Rs. 18 crores in 2004 which was in the first tenure of the DAN Ministry.

Conclusion: Inspite of receiving massive funds from the Congress led UPA Government, the NPF led DAN Government has plundered every conceivable arena having government funds and thus plunging the State in an abysmal deficit of 1252.45 crores. The desperate attempt of the NPF led DAN Government to blame the previous Congress led UPA Government or the Finance Commission is merely a cheap gimmick to pass the buck and coverup its misgovernance before the people.

It is for the people to judge how the NPF led DAN Government has ravaged the State Exchequer with its nepotistic policies and connivance with a select group of contractors and suppliers to loot hundreds of crores of public money at the cost of infrastructure development including basic amenities like health care, electricity and even salaries of the Government employees. Inspite of the suppressive policies of the NPF led DAN Government, the NPCC is confident that the long arms of the law will eventually catch up with all these corrupt leaders and officials.

 

The NPCC congratulates the NPF led DAN Government for relentlessly begging the Central Government to bail out the state from the current financial crisis in the form of special financial packages. Out of many, the most noteworthy achievement of the NPF led DAN Government in its near 12 year rule is to land the State with a deficit of 1252.45 crores even though it started with a clean slate and presented a surplus budget in 2004.

Issued by: Media Cell, Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC)

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By EMN Updated: Nov 29, 2014 10:33:07 pm