SPEECH OF SHRI T.R. ZELIANG, CHIEF MINISTER, NAGALAND ON THE OCCASION OF THE 68TH INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION AT KOHIMA ON 15TH AUGUST, 2014.
Friends and fellow citizens of Nagaland,
- I extend my warm greetings to you on the occasion of the 68th Independence Day of our great nation. This day is particularly meaningful for all Indians as it signifies the overthrow of colonial and imperial rule. The people of India became a free nation to pursue their destiny according to our genius. On a day such as this, let us therefore, rededicate ourselves to protect and safeguard this hard earned precious freedom, gained through much sacrifice of the founding fathers of the country. Let us also reaffirm to work together to make our country strong and dynamic and a frontrunner among the nations of the world.
- Democracy is enshrined in the Constitution of India and our country has recently undergone a very exciting and tumultuous process of election that culminated in the people giving an overwhelming mandate to the BJP led NDA, under the dynamic leadership of Shri Narendra Modi. This peaceful transition of power speaks of the vibrancy of our democracy, and Nagaland has been a partner in this democratic process. Having thus played our role in the democratic process of this great country, let us also realise our importance, although we may be a small State located in a remote corner of the country. I take this opportunity to thank the voters for the overwhelming support extended to the DAN candidate in the Lok Sabha election.
- Consequent to the Lok Sabha election, there has also been a change of guard in the State to guide the destinies of the people of Nagaland under the same DAN coalition. I take this opportunity, to seek the continued support of the people, so that the plans, programs and the dreams that we share together will soon become a reality.
- The cooperation of the people is essential as many of the problems confronting the people of Nagaland continue. The quest for an honourable settlement to the long standing Naga political problem continues and the process of dialogue and negotiations has been going on for the last 17 long years. It is hoped that the new dispensation at the Centre, under the dynamic leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, will expedite the processes of finding an early solution. I urge upon the Government of India, as also the Naga nationalist groups, to sincerely work towards bringing about an early settlement to make ‘peace’ a reality, which is the longing of all Nagas.
- The State has been enjoying a measure of tranquillity with the ongoing cease fire and peace process, and the law and order situation in the State has been by and large peaceful. The recent Parliamentary elections have been commendably conducted in a conducive atmosphere, and the police and the administration are continuing to endeavour to contain all forms of anti-social and criminal activities, so that the citizens can live in peace and harmony.
- While my Government continues to pursue its goals in accordance with our slogan “Peace for Development and Development for Peace”, we are presently faced with problems of resources. Friends, you are aware that Nagaland’s resource base is very small and the State’s own tax and non-tax revenue comprises only about 6% of our total budgetary expenditure. The State is almost wholly dependent on the Centre for its financial requirements. It is time to remind ourselves that we, the people of Nagaland, have to start thinking more seriously on how our economy should grow, and how to enhance our own revenues, so that we can one day proudly claim to be a self-reliant and a self sustaining society.
- It is for this reason that my Government has come up with various new initiatives like the Nagaland Special Development Zone, the State Investment Board, the Foothill road, and the exploitation of our rich mineral resources, such as oil and coal. It, however, appears that there are reservations in the minds of some sections of our society on these new ideas. The Government remains open for dialogue with the people on these initiatives. Apart from the larger issues of economic growth and revenues, let us keep in mind that there are over 5 lakh children in various educational institutions in Nagaland today. They will soon grow up to seek gainful employment and livelihood commensurate with the enlightenment and awareness of the 21st While government employment is saturated, the other employment opportunities available in the State is presently very bleak. The fast growing townships in the hill tops have very little scope for expansion, as these have become unwieldy. We have to start planning to provide the required facilities and opportunities to our children. It is hoped that the people will understand that the new policies being initiated by the Government are with the best of intentions, and with the interests of the people in mind. The stand of my Government is clear in that any decision relating to major issues concerning land and its resources will be taken only after due consultation with the people.
- Despite all the constraints, the State continues to march forward and the current growth rate of our GSDP is assessed at around 15%, while the per capita income is seen to be growing at about 11.58%. This is much higher than the national growth rate, and it should be our endeavour to sustain with such economic growth rates through our hard work. Our economic growth in the agriculture sector is most encouraging, with the growth rate presently assessed at 6.14% which is much higher than the national growth rate of 2.7%. Similarly the growth in the Horticulture sector is also very heartening, especially in the areas of floriculture and fruits. Side by side, the irrigation potentials are being constantly enlarged. Under the Veterinary & Animal Husbandry sector, the production of meat, milk and egg is growing substantially, and their import is also declining. As per a survey report in 2013-14, the ratio of our domestic meat production to imports is 65:35. The ratio was 60:40 in 2010-11. This is indeed a healthy sign of increase in our production. The Government aims to further improve this ratio in the coming years.
- Along with the growth in productivity, the Government is also striving to meet the challenges of global warming and global climate change. The forest cover continues to be substantial, which now stands at 78.68%. Our efforts at conserving the Amur Falcon has been acknowledged worldwide, leading to Nagaland being named the Amur Falcon capital of the world. Friends, let us remind ourselves that economic growth and development including conservation of environment and bio-diversity are not the responsibility of the Government alone. It requires the participation of all the people. I, therefore, take this opportunity to call upon the people of Nagaland to continue to be more pro-active, so that we can become a progressive and resilient society, capable of meeting the challenges posed by climate change, and surviving with the resources that God has given us.
- Promotion of Industries and Commerce is also high on the agenda of the Government, as it is the most potential area for employment generations. The Government is closely monitoring the revival of the Tuli Paper Mill, which will also create large employment opportunities in the ancillary and downstream industries. The Geology and Mining department has established that Nagaland has huge reserves of dimension stone, coal and limestone. The Government is planning to exploit all these natural resources so as to yield maximum benefits and employment avenues for the local population. The Wazeho Cement Plant is being revitalised through PPP mode for which an MoU has been executed with a private company. Tourism as an industry continues to grow, and the Hornbill Festival, which acts as the flagship, is being celebrated with fervour, with 1,86,000 visitors recorded in December 2013. While the department continues to work towards fulfilling the full tourism potentials of the State, I call upon the people to come forward and participate in this venture, as Tourism is eventually a process that can succeed only if the people carry forward the process of welcoming the visitors and making their visit to the State interesting and meaningful.
- Our economic growth is largely dependent on the infrastructure, and the Government is actively working to improve connectivity in the State. Four new National Highways have been declared in the State. While we have no doubt made much progress in the coverage of the roads criss-crossing the State, its maintenance and upkeep is a daunting task. The Government is going to give high priority to road maintenance, but the cooperation of the people is also necessary for its success. Four-laning of the Dimapur – Kohima highway has been long pending. However, I am happy that the process of payment of land compensation is underway, and very soon the National Highways Authority of India will be floating global tenders. Making land available for road expansions and other vital installations has been a major issue, and many projects have been avoidably delayed due to land related issues. I am happy that the survey work for Dimapur – Sechü Railway line will be started shortly. I appeal to the people to make land available for the public good. While on the issue of roads, it is unfortunate that there are some misunderstandings regarding the construction of the Foothill Road. Since the Government is taking all necessary measures for successful construction of this vital road, I appeal to the people to cooperate with the Government, rather than agitate, since our objectives are the same.
- Friends, Nagaland is facing serious power deficit. Against the peak hour requirement of 115MW, the generation of power in the State is only 24MW. The NE itself is deficit in power, and we are not able to get our full requirement of power. In order to overcome this acute power problem, the Government is taking up various initiatives, which includes the 186 MW Dikhu Hydro Project, and 150 MW Tizu – Zungki Project. The upgradation of the transmission network to address distribution deficiencies, especially in the rural areas, is also being implemented under the RAPDRP. The major problem in the State, however, is the transmission and distribution losses, which are largely attributed to non-payment of power bills by consumers, as also power theft. If the power supply system in the State is to improve, it will again depend on the people to realise their responsibilities and take ownership of the power facilities and services being provided by the Government.
- Information Technology is becoming an integral infrastructure component, and the State is working to make IT services available to the masses. Towards this end, 220 CSCs have been already set up. We are happy that Nagaland ranks 3rd among the North Eastern States in e-transactions. E-tendering system has also been introduced within the State, while Final Acceptance Testing of State Wide Area Network (SWAN) has been initiated through a Third Party Audit. In fact, online payment system for certain services, such as NPSC examinations fees and taxes can now be made through the State Portal, and Nagaland is the first in the North-East to have done so.
- In the health care sector, the State is doing extremely well, judging by certain vital statistics. Our Infant Mortality Rate is 21%, as against the national average of 44%. The maternal mortality rate is 160 as against the national average of 212. An independent survey conducted by India Today found that Nagaland is on the top position among the Smaller State categories in the country on Health Care Delivery system. Along with the provision of health care, a new health insurance scheme for BPL families, known as RSBY, is being implemented successfully, and 1,39,287 health insurance cards have been issued till March 2014, and 7,600 beneficiaries have already availed free medical treatment through this scheme. Side by side, the Government of India has approved the upgradation of the Naga Hospital, Kohima into a Medical College. A Tertiary Cancer Care Centre has also been sanctioned, and once the Centre is commissioned, cancer patients need not go out of the State for treatment. The academic and faculty building of the College of Nursing at Dimapur is completed, and will be inaugurated shortly, while the BSc. Nursing course for 2014-15 has already started in the premises of the CISHR, Dimapur.
- There has been substantial improvement in the provision of water supply, with more habitations being covered. Besides, various innovations, such as roof top rain water harvesting structures and solar powered water treatment units are being introduced. Further, sanitation drive is making good progress in rural areas, with 23,262 units of household latrines being constructed during 2013-14.
- To improve the quality of our school education, Teacher Eligibility Test for recruitment of elementary school teachers is being implemented. Similarly, qualitative improvement in Higher Education has been achieved through implementation of accreditation scheme. 9 colleges have already been accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), with satisfactory grades. The Kohima Science College at Jotsoma has recently been granted autonomous college status, effective from the current academic session. This premier science college in the State will now have the academic independence to design its own curriculum, and to conduct examinations.
- The rural areas continue to get the highest attention of the Government as around 70% of our population are in rural areas. Under MGNREGA, 4.14 lakh Job Cards have been issued till date, and 182.93 lakhs man days of gainful employment have been generated. The National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) has been launched, which is expected to create much needed jobs and livelihood opportunities for the people in the rural areas. The Government initiatives to uplift the backward areas of the State are continuing unabated under DUDA and the BRGF programmes. Supplementing such activities, the Women Resource Development Department is taking up the Transformative Livelihood Intervention Project, under which, 1257 women SHGs have been formed, covering 17,010 women in 223 villages, and covering all the 11 districts. Six Common Service Centres for spinning and weaving have also been set up.
- All these activities are leading to a resurgence in the human resource development in the State, and our youth are excelling in sports, bringing laurels to the State in many national and international events. A Naga cultural team is at present performing and representing our State in the “Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo” 2014 in Scotland. The Handshake Concert continues to be held successfully in various foreign countries. This year it was held successfully in Yangon, indicating the heights of excellence being achieved by our musicians.
- Despite all these advancements, the problem of unemployment persists, and today there are 65,783 educated youth on the live register of Employment Exchanges in the State. To tackle this problem, the State is continuing to give attention to the creation of the ITIs, SDIs besides encouraging the emergence of Vocational Training Providers through the Nagaland Skill Development Initiative Society.
- Friends, I have highlighted only some of the major activities out of the many programmes and projects that are being implemented in the State. As a free and independent people in the world’s largest democracy, it is up to the people to fully take advantage of the initiatives of the Government. Let us remember that in the present century, the Government can only be a facilitator, and the true economic growth and social development depends on the people. While extending my warm greetings to you on this auspicious occasion of the Independence Day of India, I call upon the people to savour our freedom, and to strive for excellence, so that together, we move towards our common visions of a progressive and prosperous Nagaland of our dreams.