Govt has failed in checking extortion, price rise – NVCO
Dimapur, November 23
The government of Nagaland has failed in checking corruption, extortion and price rise in Nagaland, the Nagaland Voluntary Consumers’ Organization (NVCO) has said. The government is not only tepid about the “illegal taxations” plaguing the public and business community but also failed to protect the economic interest of the citizens, NVCO leaders said during a recent seminar.
The State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD) conducted a seminar on November 22 in Kohima. The resource person was president of the NVCO Kezhokhoto Savi. While observing the 50th anniversary of Nagaland’s statehood, he said, the government of Nagaland must not forget the menace of extortion, “practice of illegal collection of cash on the highways/check-gates”, deduction of percentages in the name of commission from public funds i.e., contractors’ bills meant for infrastructural development and finally the plight of the public, the victims of all those.
The local leader took the example of Dimapur, the commercial hub of Nagaland. The town is almost turning into a ‘nightmare’ with escalation of price of both essential and non-essential commodities and extortion from both underground elements and nongovernmental organizations, the NVCO leader said. What is affecting Dimapur is affecting the entire state, Savi said. “Prices of food items and building materials seem to be increasing almost double from the levels they were a month ago,” he observed. Prices are rising after the public rally called by Action Committee Against Unabated Taxation (ACAUT), a mass-based peoples’ organization spearheading a movement against extortion by the armed underground organizations.
“What is the district administration doing? Why the state government is least bother to anticipate the cry of people shown through the huge thousands of citizens participated in a public rally called by ACAUT and even a similar rally is require to be conducted in the state capital?” the NVCO president said.
The NVCO has been appealing to all the tribal organizations including the Angami Public Organization to take initiative in forming local ACAUT units in their own districts so as to provide a common platform to fight the extortion, he said.
The NVCO has squarely blamed the government: “Even the Central Government made an appeal to the state government that the state government should take the issue of price rise very seriously to protect the interest of consumers otherwise it will be difficult and further assured that the central government would assist the states in controlling prices in whatever ways possible.
However, the Government of Nagaland is failing on its part to take effective measures to eliminate the practices of illegal taxation and continually failing to maintain and control the prices to a reasonable rate.”
The Nagaland government “is never serious to effectively implement the Essential Commodities Act, 1955,” the NVCO leader said. “Nagaland is a state mushrooming with illegal collections of cash in the name of taxes and commission on highways, extortion, illegal deductions of money on public funds meant for development, fund-raise by way of conducting buffet, donation voucher, lottery ticket, selling newspapers, calendar, moudi or any other cooked meat, etc by way of donation, etc and these are the factors that contribute to price-rise in the state.”
He said Dimapur is today the most affected of places in Nagaland plagued by “illegal collection of cash.” Trucks coming from outside refuse to enter Nagaland because of the forcible collection of ‘taxes’ at various check-gates lying on National Highways, he said.
“The extortionist amount demanded of trucks transporting goods has definitely pushed up prices of every item in the market. Even besides the check gates, there are also numerous collection points at every conceivable corner in Dimapur including the several authorized and unauthorized DMC toll tax counters where truck drivers are stopped and compelled to pay some amount.”
All these practices of “illegal collection/deduction of cash” are only promoting more corruption and the victims are the public, the poor and hapless consumers, Savi said. The NVCO cannot remain silent but to continually wake up the citizens as a consumer, he assured. “Every consumer is expected to remain alert and vigilant all the time and also fight against corruption in the society.”