Nagaland Governor’s speech was ‘Covid-19 dominated’, says Opposition
Kohima, Feb. 15 (EMN): Members of opposition on Monday criticised the speech of Nagaland Governor RN Ravi on the opening day of the ongoing 7th session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA), terming it as ‘Covid-19 dominated’.
Taking part in the debate on the motion of thanks to the governor’s address, the leader of opposition, TR Zeliang, lauded the frontline workers involved in the fight against the pandemic but said Ravi’s speech “was a subject only touching on the Covid-19 pandemic”.
He also asked the state government to look into the matter of “boundary dispute “with the neighbouring state of Manipur concerning the recent Dzükou valley fire incident.
On road developments, he the road from New Field check gate to Purana Bazaar, Dimapur was unsatisfactory and not done ‘as per specification’. While the sanctioned project was for total reconstruction of the road, the work done on this stretch was ‘just blacktopping’ on top of the existing road, he said and demanded for an inquiry committee report of the road.
MLA Vikheho Swu stated that completion and inauguration of road and bridges is ‘not an accomplishment to be celebrated’. He claimed that most of the completed and inaugurated projects by the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) were initiated by the NPF-led DAN government’ and “there is no real pride in wearing someone else’s feather in your cap”.
According to the MLA, roads in Nagaland are in pitiable condition for ‘lack of maintenance policy. He cited an example of NEC road, which was promised and assured for upgrading to national highway but has been in a deplorable condition for over a decade. While adding that the road is one lifeline that would greatly benefit the entire Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) areas, it is also the shortest route that will connect Mokokchung district as well, he added.
The legislator also brought to notice some of the bridges that need to be prioritised, the topmost being Dikhu Bridge between Salulamang and Mongtikang, which is important as it connects remote areas of Mokokchung, Longleng, Mon, Tuensang, and Noklak. He added that the bridge would significantly improve the travel and welfare of the eastern region of Nagaland.
“When the Covid-19 pandemic came into the state, Dimapur, the largest commercial cosmopolitan city and having the largest density of population, did not have a functional ICU,” he said.
“The ICU beds, ventilators, PPE kits, and masks stood out starkly ill-equipped. Every single one of the district hospitals in the state is a mockery of our responsibility to the Naga people. If Ebola comes for us next, can Nagaland withstand an onslaught at this state of healthcare facility? The answer will be No,” he said.
Covid-19 is just an initial warning, he said, and called upon the state government to begin upgrading health services.
‘Nagaland today is fortunate to have well endowed and qualified healthcare workers. However, much to their dismay, infrastructure stands extremely unfavourable to carry out basic medical needs and procedures. This leads to negative substitution of services by the healthcare workers. Whereby, they set up private clinics and hospitals to meet the needs of the public. Ultimately, the common people face the brunt of unavailability of doctors, higher medical bills and undeniably- even deaths. Therefore, this matter must be addressed,’ he urged.
The state of ‘Nagaland’s pride in agricultural productivity’ has been a humiliation in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, he said. “We were stark naked in the war front to meet our daily grocery needs,” Swu stated.
He sought data on the productivity from distribution of tractors and machinery to farmers, besides asking whether there is a non-partisan third party keeping track of who gets what or whether the machines and equipments distributed actually reach the needy ones.
He also suggested that the people must aspire to at least become self-sufficient, if not be an exporter and called upon the government to re-evaluate the legislation and action plans to ensure self-sufficiency.
While appreciating the Education department for online student evaluation portal, he pointed out that it was done ‘without thought’ for students who do not have access to smart phones and internet. The government, he said, has created inequality.
‘Well-off students have access to the plan while the lacking children languish inside the forests trying to get a signal,’ he said.
‘The state proudly excels in implementing 10 new projects under RUSA 2.0, evidently, the major ones being the construction of engineering college at Tzurangsa, Mokokchung and one New Model Degree College at Tzupaksa, Mangkolemba, Mokokchung. The pace at which this is being implemented contradicts the far cry to the already assured upgrade of Khelhoshe Polytechnic at Atoizu to that of Engineering College in 2007. This has fallen on deaf ears and has no mention in the action plan of 2021-22,’ Swu added.
The minister for Higher and Technical Education in July 2018, on his visit to Khelhoshe Polytechnic reassured for an upgrade. Therefore, he demanded that the minister’s assurance for upgrade be done without any further delay.
MLA Imkong L Imchen also criticised the governor’s speech, terming it as a “document of the government”. Ravi, who is also the GoI’s interlocutor for Naga peace talk, in his speech, said that the Naga political solution has “concluded”. On this, Imchen sought to know from the leader of the House when the political negotiations ‘concluded’ and in what form.
MLA Yitachu added that the governor’s speech was “very disappointing” as there was “nothing which in reality addresses the real issue”. He said that the government, through Governor’s speech, was “trying to hype” Covid-19.
“The speech had not given enthusiasm or the kind of message that should be delivered in the August house. It was just a mere repetition,” he added.