New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) In terms of policies and programmes and creating slogans, there is no shortcoming in the Narendra Modi government, but there is need for more serious efforts for their effective implementation, former Nagaland chief minister and the state’s lone member of the Lok Sabha, Neiphiu Rio, said here.
“Only slogans and programmes cannot help. I know the policies and intention of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Prime Minister Modi. Much has been said, but we have to be very serious about the implementation,” Rio told IANS in an interview.
He however clarified that he was not criticising the BJP-led NDA government. “I want to stress that we have to implement the vision and promises of our prime minister. Mere slogans will not do,” Rio said.
Dwelling on various aspects of the Union government’s handling of the northeastern states over the years, Rio, who was chief minister of Nagaland for 11 years since 2003, cited the example of the Bharatiya Mahila Bank launched in 2013.
“This bank was launched by the UPA regime and I wonder why four of our northeastern states were left out. The Bharatiya Mahila Bank is a women’s bank. It was implemented through an Act of Parliament all over the country except Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. I would like to know why such a decision was taken. I strongly feel that the Mahila Bank should be launched in these four states also.”
On the functioning of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), he pointed out that the DoNER budget is stagnant at Rs.2,400 crore for the last eight years, while the funds for the North Eastern Council (NEC) are “virtually declining” every year.
“As for the North Eastern Council, up to the 10th Five-year Plan, the shortfall percentage in central funding was 28.24 percent. In the 11th Five-year Plan the shortfall percentage rose to 56.07 percent, and in the 12th plan the shortfall is 53.80 percent. I think it is a serious matter. I want that the Ministry of DoNER and NEC are taken care of properly,” he said.
Citing yet another ‘discrimination’, he said, the budget for the Ministry of Coal for northeast has been brought down from a modest Rs.30 crore to Rs.16 crore in 2016-17.
He expressed concern at the overall functioning of the Ministry of Coal.
“Our northeastern states are mineral-rich, but the small amount of money has not been utilised and the budget has been reduced. You are aware that northeast is rich in resources, but we remained poor because the resources are not exploited and potentials are not being pursued for economic progress,” Rio said.
He said Nagaland attained full statehood in 1963, but remains a “problematic state due to Asia’s oldest insurgency there”.
“One must appreciate that after 53 years of statehood, there is no tangible development in Nagaland. There is no medical college, no engineering college and no national or regional institute,” he said.
He pointed out that due to insurgency and political turmoil, Nagaland could not participate in two general elections in 1952 and 1957. “Which means we missed two plan periods. Therefore, while the region remains backward and less developed, Nagaland remains more backward,” Rio said.
(Nirendra Dev can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)