Thunder without Rain

The recent revelations about scores of doubtful Drawal Authorities (DAs) disclosed by Nagaland Public Rights Awareness and Action Forum (NPRAAF) and the subsequent flip-flopping replies by the Government Departments followed by findings from the public about non-existence of projects against which huge amounts of money were released reveals the state of governance not only in this tenure but tells similar stories still unexposed in the preceding tenures. Issuance of such doubtful DAs find realism in the statements of bodies like Association of Kohima Municipal Wards Panchayat (AKMWP) and Tenyiphe – I, Tenyiphe – II and Tenyiphe – III (Virazouma). After the Forum exposed about release of crores of rupees for developmental activities at ‘Planning Colony’ Kohima under Article 275 (1), the AKMWP informed that no such colony existed within the 19 wards in Kohima. The non-existence of a colony by that name was further confirmed by the Kohima Municipal Council. The Government has not been able to publicly clarify about the issuance of various DAs against the ‘ghost colony.’ When the Forum revealed about double DAs issued amounting to a total of Rs 2005 lakh for construction of 17 hostels for tribal boys and girls at various locations in the State, the Government refuted stating that two instalments were received from the GoI under Article 275 (1) but could not respond when it was asked to provide GoI sanction/letter copies in support of the claim. This issue found relevance with the three village councils of Tenyiphe – I, II and III which stated that no such works existed within its jurisdiction. The issue got more interesting when the contractor identifying himself as Tepuvito of Tenyiphe – I – C Khel, Dimapur highlighted about the upcoming girls’ hostel at Tenyiphe – I – C Khel. This response by Tepuvito brings one to wonder whether the three Tenyiphe villages did their homework properly since it is difficult to miss out such a huge structure coming up within its jurisdiction. They also stated that no person by the name ‘Tepuvito Angami’ existed in any of the three villages. Did the contractor spring up suddenly at Tenyiphe – I – C Khel along with the structure? Did the three villages lack in their research? Or, was there some last minute understanding between the contractor and Tenyiphe village? With a government structure coming up within its jurisdiction, how was the village authorities kept out of the loop – at least about intimation even if the land belonged to an individual? These doubts can either be cleared or remain clouded basing on how Tenyiphe responds to the issue. The Tenyiphe villages may also note that the total amount released for the hostel is Rs 144 lakh and not Rs 72 lakh since Rs 72 lakh was released twice. Another anti-graft bullet of the NPRAAF hit the Government over the DA amounting to Rs 20. 72 cr (total cost revised to Rs 41.26 cr) issued in favour of Geology & Mining Department but drawn by the Nagaland State Mineral Development Corporation Ltd which shared the same demand no 52. The amount was for construction of two bridges at Nimi-Laluri Mineral Link Road. When the G&M Department washed its hands off the DA, the NSMDC Ltd in its attempt to illustrate that the works have been carried out instead unmindfully revealed serious procedural lapses on the part of the Government for allowing an Undertaking to directly draw money from the Treasury. Even as G&M and NSMDC Ltd shared the same demand number, the correct procedure of honouring DA should have been done first by the G&M and process it over to the Corporation. This issue further left the Government deeply cornered without being able to provide further response. When both the Governor and Chief Minister have given thunderous statements over the issue of corruption during the Vigilance Awareness Week, it is the right time for the Government to translate its words into actions by initiating probes into various allegations from different quarters. What the NPRAAF has revealed and the subsequent support found from the public pointing out doubtful or non-existence of various projects is a strong enough reason in itself for the Government to act on it by ordering an independent probe and restore the actual image of what it is talking about. Else, it becomes all thunder and no rain.

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