Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio on Thursday reiterated that the Naga political issue remained at the core of Naga society for several decades and continues even till today.
He said this while addressing the 12th session of 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) on the last day of the 2-day session.
Rio pointed out that United Democratic Alliance (UDA) partners had reflected this in their respective party manifestos when they assured that their legislators would pave the way in the event of a solution that was honourable, acceptable and inclusive.
He also reiterated that the State government was not a direct party to the negotiations, but only playing the role of a facilitator.
Rio also remarked that the political issue that has stretched for several decades involving the oldest insurgency in the Northeast, required a matured approach.
He said the over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning more than two decades was more than enough time for all stakeholders to “understand and appreciate each other in a manner that we are able to reach a desired conclusion by achieving a settlement.”
Against the backdrop of clamour for final solution among all sections of people, Rio assured the House that the State government and Parliamentary Committee on Naga Political Issue would continue to make efforts and appeal for any early solution, to the extent of “supporting such a development” even before the elections to NLA due in early 2023.
Rio also welcomed the resumption of talks between negotiating parties while recalling the July 16, 2022 resolution of the Parliamentary Committee on Naga Political Issue which appealed to the negotiating parties to refer to competencies of talks and resolve the contentious issues.
He exuded confidence that the resumption of talks would bear positive results and also appealed to the negotiating parties and Government of India (GoI) to address the contentious issues and hold discussions on the competencies so that solution was achieved at the earliest possible time.
He also acknowledged the Covenant of Reconciliation (CoR) signed on June 13, 2009 by which the signatories committed to move forward through dialogue and live together in peace.
He also said the September 14 Joint Accordant too was a significant step in the right direction and lauded its signatories and the facilitator, FNR.
Rio said such a spirit of understanding and a willingness to live together in peace was definitely the way forwardand hoped that with such oneness, Nagas would be able to reach the desired goal sooner than later.
He also appreciated the elected members and all stakeholders, including leaders and representatives of civil society groups and tribal hohos and individuals, who participated in the consultative meetings and collectively supported the common endeavour of pursuing permanent peace.
Concluding his speech, he expressed gratitude to the NLA speaker and noted that despite being a first-time legislator, Sharingain Longkumer had displayed utmost maturity and provided exemplary guidance to the House.
He also acknowledged deputy speaker T Yangseo Sangtam for carrying out his responsibilities in an appreciable manner.
As the 12th session would be the last before the 2023 Assembly election, Rio said “As we approach the close of our tenure, I extend my best wishes to my colleagues in your future endeavours and, God willing, we will meet again as we continue to pursue our endeavour to serve the people.”
Earlier, initiating the discussion on the issue, Adviser School Education K.T. Sukhalu said despite the efforts of all legislators spearheaded CCoNPI, as facilitators to bring about an early settlement of the protracted Naga political issue, it was misinterpreted by few individuals and groups that the state government was not doing enough to bring about an early settlement.
Sukhalu said the situation was at a crucial stage now as the discussions between the negotiating parties went on and so it was imperative that Nagas remained united as, irrespective of where the members stood, as the Naga political issue was paramount and could not be compromised.
He appealed to the members to be careful with their statements and utterances and have a united voice for an early settlement of the Naga political issue.
NLA passes resolution on Foothill Road project
Nagaland Legislative Assembly on Thursday resolved and proposed to construct the much-awaited Trans Nagaland highway or Foot Hill Road with assistance/funding from the North Eastern Council (NEC).
Taking part in the discussion, on the concluding day of the 12th session of the 13 NLA, chief minister Neiphiu Rio said that the government had taken up the matter with the ministry on several occasions. Though the ministry had agreed to include the project under Bharatmala Pariyojana scheme, Rio said it did not materialize.
Rio said that since they were left with no option, an additional amount of Rs. 30 crore was sanctioned from the state plan. Based on the work progress, Rio said the proposal for a bill of around Rs. 17 crore was made. However, even before the fund could be released, he said the contractors issued an ultimatum to release the bills. He said if contractors come up with such steps, it would set a bad precedent.
Earlier, initiating the discussion on matters of urgent public importance on Foothill Road project, NDPP legislator Imkong L. Imchen stressed on the need to urgently complete the foothill road. He, therefore, proposed that the State government do away with all other projects and take up the foothill road project with the NEC and make the dream of the people a reality.
He pointed out that the foothill road project was conceptualized taking note of the hardships faced by the people along Assam-Nagaland border.
Imchen stated that the road would serve as the ‘economic route’ for the people of Nagaland, as it would connect Khelma in Peren district to Tizit in Mon District, while 80% of the population are expected to ply on the road once completed.
ISER project stalled: With regard to construction of Institute of Science and Engineering Research (ISER), Rio said an area measuring around 200 acres was purchased for setting up the institute in 2015-16. He recalled that during his tenure as Lok Sabha MP, Nagaland Odisha was allotted ISER. However, ISER Odisha was already functional but lamented funding for Nagaland was retracted, Rio said, adding that he has been pursuing with the Centre on the matter.
Medical college: With Nagaland hoping to have an AIIMS-like medical institute, managed by the Central government, Rio, however, lamented that two persons who were already selected and had accepted their appointments, had informed the government their inability to work for the medical college.