Kohima, Oct. 11 (EMN): Citing difficulties in acquiring land for the state government as one of the major challenges hindering development of Nagaland, Chief Secretary R Binchilo Thong on Thursday said there was an urgent need to examine the constitutional provisions of Article 371 (A) and the land tenure systems, particularly the creation of appropriate and modern land record systems.
Speaking at the valedictory programme of the two-day regional conference on ‘Good governance initiatives’, Thong reasoned that this would create an appropriate environment for development ‘to emerge in the right direction’, especially investment in the state, and also facilitate the commoditisation of land.
The chief secretary also cited unfriendly terrain and low population density, lack of connectivity, lack of capital formation and poor banking culture, lack of right environment for investment, the peculiar land laws and land tenure systems, poor access to the markets of India as a result of remoteness, isolation as some of the reasons why the Northeast region remains ‘backward.’
He however pointed out the advantage for the NE region was its ‘ethnic composition of the people, which can make trade and commerce interface smoother and can emerge as a very significant player, provided the necessary infrastructures are put into place.’
In the context of Nagaland, he said, it was crucial that the four-lane highway being built currently between Dimapur and Kohima should be extended to cover the Kohima-Imphal link by 2022. Thong also suggested that the rail link between Dimapur and Zubza should be extended beyond to enable Nagaland to assimilate into the expected trade with Myanmar and the other ASEAN countries via the Act East Policy.
In the aftermath of Nagaland witnessing one of the worst monsoon disasters in recent memory, Thong shared that ‘the main aspect of rebuilding after disaster is a herculean task due the poor resource position of the Northeast states.’ He stated that it has become imperative for the states to start thinking in terms of social security net by putting into place systems such as disaster risk financing and other insurance mechanisms.
Thong also underscored the need for complete devolution of the Village Development Board and Communitisation Act at the grassroots to enable them to be active partners and collaborators in achieving the state’s vision and sustainable development strategies. While informing that Nagaland has been successfully implementing the Act, he suggested further review of the existing arrangements and evaluation of the effectiveness and capabilities of these institutions.
Observing that the development of the banking sector in the Northeast in general, and Nagaland in particular, has been unsatisfactory, he was of the view that there is a need for higher financial support to micro-financing institutions in the banking system to reach the unreached areas.
Also noting that non-scientific use of medicinal plants is on the verge of extinction, Thong stressed on the need to promote sale of organic products and the need to have NEC funding scheme for lab analysis for traces of chemicals.
He expressed confidence that the conference’s objective of ‘cross learning and replication’ would be possible in the region given the similar conditions prevailing in the Northeast states, the Himalayan states and other hilly regions.
The additional secretary of Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Vasudha Mishra expressed hope that the information shared at the conference would be replicated all the states of the region.
A Nagaland government officer expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the programme and opined that more of the kind should be organised for exposure and exchange of ideas and knowledge.
Another officer said he found the practice of adoption of schools by officers in other states interesting and was of the view that it could be replicated in Nagaland as well.