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Nagaland

Peren learns ways to owning developmental goals

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By EMN Updated: Mar 06, 2015 11:49 pm
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EMN
Dimapur, March 6

A social development program called the community development initiative has begun in Peren town on Friday as an effort to empower local communities in taking ownership of developmental goals and use natural resources in tune with developmental trends.
Local organization the Coalition on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) is collaborating with Zeliangrong Students’ Union of Nagaland (ZSUN) to stage the program titled ‘community development initiative’, a project of the CENR. The event began in Peren’s town council hall. As targeted, the program was aimed at empowering local communities, the Zeliangrong people in this context, to assert their rights and strengthen their ability to cope with growing development trends, the organizers stated in a press release issued to the media on Friday.
The program was directed to empower local communities in Peren District of Nagaland, to protect their Land and its natural resources to sustain their livelihood. The CENR’s proposed activity in Nagaland for to encourage community development and engagement of development of local community leaders including women leaders was another major topic that was discussed. The program is the first of its kind in the district, the organizers stated. The initiative of CENR stands for securing the peaceful co-existence and human sustainability ensuring equity and justice of the indigenous people, the organization stated. 65 participants from across Peren district participated in the daylong program.
Chairman of Kohima Educational Society and advisor to the Kohima Lotha Hoho, P Ngullie, opined during the program that wherever wealth or natural resource was there, one would always find conflict. In order to do away with mental conflict, he said, one must be aware of the kind of resources that one has and make the best use of the same. Likewise, Ngullie stated that wherever extraction of natural resources takes place, the local indigenous people were the ones who were most affected. ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years back and the next best time is today’, the community leader stated.
Recipient of Chameli Devi Award and founder of Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust Bano Haralu also spoke at the program. She opened the topic with the question, “Are we at a stage where we are responsible enough to handle exploration of oil and natural gas?” Haralu stated that natural resources belong to humanity, not to any individuals. She maintained that humans are affected by the way they treat nature.
Stating that the Nagas were at a crossroad in the present times, Haralu stated that the Nagas have to lay new foundations as there were too many issues to be tackled.
Social worker and news reader Jonas Yanthan also gave an in-depth presentation on the issue of oil exploration in Champang area in Wokha district. He also elaborated Article 371-A, a statute giving indigenous communities ownership over local resources. He encouraged the participants to learn to speak the truth and to stand for their rights.
Also, founder of Soul Harvest Ministry Humaningbo Chawang spoke during the event. He was of the view that one should not oppose or reject any developmental project without first studying the advantages and disadvantages of it and how they could either help or ruin a community. “Oil and natural resources is nature’s gift from God and therefore we have to think what God would want us to do with it. We should utilize it purposefully,” Chawang said.
A recipient of Governors’ Award and retired Educationist, Apeuna Iheilung stressed on women’s issues and education. Quoting a socialist adage that,“A society that neglects a woman is a sickly society”, she maintained that although everyone talk about conflicts, everyone has a contribution towards the conflict, one way or the other. To make a better society, she said, one must educate oneself and contribute in whatever way he can.
A brief profile of CENR and ZSUN’s collaboration
Since 2012, Coalition on Environment and Natural Resources (CENRs), a Coalition of affected communities of Oil and Gas exploration, have initiated a number of programs for communities living within the area of the oil drilling plan in Manipur, mainly with the support of Foreign Donors.
Local level awareness raising, consultations, advocacy and lobby with different civil society groups, government and industries have been on-going activities of CENRs. For a year, the activities concentrated within Manipur.
Nevertheless, looking into the overall situation of NE around the issues relating to extractives and natural resources issues, initiatives have been extended to other three NE states; Assam, Nagaland and Meghalaya. As an outcome of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Assam consultation, civil society and other relevant stakeholders including academicians, Government officials, and journalists have strongly expressed the need for collective efforts to strengthen peoples’ organization as, in many cases, corporate policies and activities are not people friendly. In Meghalaya, there is on-going coal mining affecting large section of tribal population; in Nagaland, ONGC activities in drilling oil and gas led to internal conflicts and confusion amongst the local communities; and in Assam there are controversial dams and mining activities by big industries.
In this context, CENRs felt the need to strengthen the Coalition and extend community development initiatives not only in Manipur but also in the three NE states of Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland. CENRs is looking forward to a strong peoples’ movement in defending the rights of indigenous population, their land and their natural resources in NE India.
Zeliangrong Students Union of Nagaland has assessed its progress and has noted that it needs to go further than just looking at local scenarios; now it has to assist other like-minded bodies in addressing massive problems not only in Peren District but the entire State in general.
ZSUN believes that its response to emergencies and development must at their core; focus on strengthening the bonds between the public and private sectors alike. Its approach aims to build and improve societal relations based on the principle of peaceful co-existence, accountability and participation. It has become role models for local folks, demonstrating the potential to contribute not just to the Zeliangrong family, but to the State and the Nation. ZSUN Formula, including collaboration with Social workers, Civil Society Organizations, etc and dialogues with local Government, has down the ages raised its profile.
Now, making all this work in a better way means even more resources and better coordination; which has led the organization to opt for collaboration with CENRS in particular and the Government, NGO’s, Civil Societies and the Community at large in general.
The challenge ahead is to facilitate the scaling up of a peaceful environment for massive number of rural folks, helping them understand the need for peace and understanding in building a healthier atmosphere.

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By EMN Updated: Mar 06, 2015 11:49:28 pm