NACO’s failure to release funds puts 30,000 people at risk in Nagaland
Kohima | November 10
In protest against the National AIDS Control Organization’s (NACO) non-payment of work done for HIV and AIDS intervention in Nagaland State, the Network of Nagaland Drugs and AIDS Organization (NNagaDAO) today staged a protest rally here.
Expressing resentment towards NACO for non release of grant for the last fiscal year, the rally started from NNagaDAO office, making its way to the Chief Minister’s residence.
Among the many protest placards, some read: ‘Employee not slave,’ ‘Pay our rightful dues for the work done for prevention of HIV, care and support,’ ‘Prevent HIV/AIDS by timely release of fund,’ ‘We have worked, give us our salary,’ ‘No pay no work,’ ‘We demand immediate government intervention.’
“We are gathered here to show our resentment,” NNagaDAO President Abou Mere told the media persons adding that they are representing more than 30,000 people, “because it is not just the staff or the families but we also represent the key population.”
NACO’s intervention is critical in controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS in Nagaland. So, when the intervention is hampered, then more than 30,000 people are going to suffer, said Mere.
In the last financial year, many staff had suffered because they had to take loans at high interest rates in order to pay their children’s school fees and house rent; more so house owners have been complaining for them to vacate houses, he informed.
Mere said NNagaDAO was hopeful that the State Government will come to rescue as it has an obligation to protect the citizens. “HIV is a health issue and it is a State subject therefore we are confident that the Government will act accordingly,” he said.
“The non release of HIV grants to NGOs working in the field of HIV and AIDS field has left its grassroots staff without a salary for the last fiscal year (December 2015 to March 2016),” stated the NNagaDAO President in a representation addressed to Nagaland State Chief Minister TR Zeliang, requesting his intervention to resolve the issue.
The representation further noted that the NACO and the Nagaland State AIDS Control Society (NSACS) have been constantly engaged in blame-game while the NGOs and its staff continue to suffer.
This delay in payment of its staff is causing huge burden to their family and to the organization and to the critical work of HIV in the field, it stated.
“Your timely intervention will not only help to protect the rights of the HIV and AIDS grassroots workers and will go a long way in ensuring the effective implementation of HIV and AIDS programme in the State in future,” the representation stated.
NNagaDAO also requested the CM to take measures that prevent third parties to exploit its citizen, particularly when s/he belongs to the weaker section of the community.
It informed that majority of the grassroots workers in the field of HIV are People Living with HIV and People who Use Drugs.
Stating that the Constitution of India guarantees, Protection of life and liberty (Article 21), Equality before law (Article 14) and Non-discrimination (Article 14 & 15), NNagaDAO asserted that the Nagaland State Government has the constitutional obligation to take legislative and administrative actions for realization of the right to life and protect its citizen.
It appealed the Chief Minister to intervene with all the influence “under your command and to facilitate the release of the pending grants to all the organizations affected by this crisis.”
Further, it requested the CM to address the barriers and take measures to ensure that the backlog funds from the last fiscal year be released at the earliest by NACO.
A copy of the representation was also submitted to Nagaland State Governor PB Acharya, Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio and Chief Secretary Pankaj Kumar.