Kohima, August 15 (MExN): Nagaland Chief Minister today expressed the need for an early and honourable settlement of the Naga Political Issue and reminded that 23 years of ceasefire and political dialogue “is more than enough time to reach a logical conclusion."
Rio said this during his address at the State level celebration of India’s 74th Independence Day at Secretariat Plaza, Kohima on August 15.
Nagaland joined the rest of the nation to celebrate the Independence Day with the Chief Minister unfurling the National Flag and taking the Rashtriya Salute at the event.
According to a DIPR report, he reiterated the State Government’s role in the ongoing political dialogue by making all possible efforts in reaching a logical conclusion.
The State Government has carried out consultations with all sections of society including Tribal Hohos, mass-based organizations, church leaders, NGOs and all other stakeholders, he said.
The Joint Legislators' Forum and all the legislators have come together irrespective of party affiliations and political ideologies in the greater interest of peace and political solution, he added.
As per the report, Rio also reminded that 23 years of ceasefire and political dialogue is more than enough time to reach a logical conclusion.
“Nagas have longed for genuine peace for decades and there is a deep desire for an honourable and acceptable solution that will pave the way for all round progress and development,” Rio was quoted as saying.
He also suggested that the civil societies discuss among themselves and create a conducive atmosphere with full understanding as one Naga family.
Rio further appealed to all sections of society and every citizen, to continue to make their honest contribution for lasting peace and to resolve the issue without further delay, the report added.
Facing COVID-19 with ‘firm resolve’
Meanwhile, dwelling on COVID-19, Rio said that Nagaland, along with the rest of the country has faced the pandemic with a firm resolve from the very beginning.
“Since January this year, we had activated our Rapid Response Teams, the District Surveillance Units and the Nagaland State Public Health Emergency Operation Centre and also formed the District Task Forces,” he said.
He further noted that these teams had started screening incoming passengers and travelers in addition to closure of all educational institutions and suspension of new Inner Line Permits in March 2020.
Further, a High Powered Committee with Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister as Chairman and Co-Chairman was also set up to decide policy matters related to COVID-19, he highlighted.
Alongside the preventive measures, Rio said that the State focused on building, improving and upgrading our health and medical facilities while creating quarantine facilities on a war footing by utilizing the existing government infrastructures.
As of August 10, the State has tested nearly 21,170 persons per million population, which is higher than the national average of about 18,770 per million, he informed.
Apart from Government facilities, private hospitals are also being encouraged to install and augment testing facilities, he added.
The Chief Minister also informed that the State Government provided immediate cash assistance to 21,797 people.
Further noting that the lockdown measures also brought distress to the stranded daily wage earners and labourers from within the State as well as of other States working here, he said that the State Government worked hard to alleviate their problems and provided food and dry rations to 2,14,020 such needy people.
“Trains and buses were also arranged to transport 4,500 migrant workers back to their States and the State Government quickly provided a one- time assistance of Rs.10,000 to help 16,135 needy people who opted to stay back outside the State,” Rio said.
As per the DIPR report, he highlighted that till August 10, more than 21,500 returnees and other travelers have undergone Institutional Quarantine.
The Chief Minister thanked the doctors, nurses, other frontline workers, district administration, police, municipal authorities, NSDMA and workers of other essential service departments for their tireless services under very challenging circumstances.
He also lauded the church leaders, mass-based organizations, NGOs and countless volunteers for “rendering yeoman's services during this unprecedented crisis.”
Rio also highlighted on the multiple economic challenges in the State due to the COVID-19 pandemic as it has showed the vulnerability of the State in terms of food sufficiency.
It also reflected the pressing need for creating employment opportunities for the large number of returnees numbering more than 30,000 including students and workers, he said.
In response to these economic challenges, he informed that a Strategic Committee for Economic Affairs headed by Chief Minister was constituted as well as a Core Group consisting of experts in the field and other stake holders to work out strategies and action plans to strengthen the State's economy.
Special focus is also being given in sectors like Upgradation of facilities in health care, education, youth resources and sports, he said.
As an immediate measure, he informed that a digital platform, Nagaland Job Links Portal has been launched by the Department of Labour & Employment, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to help connect job seekers and employers for placement in the private sector, he added.
An e-commerce platform namely Yellow Chain, developed by the Investment and Development Authority of Nagaland (IDAN), has just been launched as another response to these economic challenges, he said.
Rio also stressed on the importance of the tourism industry on the State’s economyand said that the sector is a key element of "brand Nagaland" as the State’s tourism events have become renowned across the world.
Despite the various challenges faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he suggested for new initiatives for all-round improvement of the tourism eco-system through measures like strengthening of human resources, improvement of infrastructure, Upgradation to digital platforms, capacity building and redrawing of tourism strategies.
The Chief Minister further informed that in order to maintain continuity, the State Government has decided to organize the flagship event of Hornbill festival this year with a few modifications.
He also informed the gathering that the Department of Rural Development has also responded to COVID-19 pandemic by giving job cards under MGNREGA to people including returnees willing to work and earn.
“50% of Grant-in-aid to VDBs amounting to Rs.17.50 crore for the year 2019-20 was released which has played a significant role in helping villagers to get essential commodities and setting up of temporary Quarantine Centers at village level,” he added.
The Agri and allied Departments, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, have responded aggressively by scaling up efforts so as to obviate any farm and consumer crisis and with a view to curb the State’s dependency on import of goods, a special drive focused on the theme 'Grow More! Produce More! Earn More' is being promoted, he said.
To further boost development activities in the districts especially in health care and Agri and allied sectors, an amount of Rs 30 crore has been released to the districts under Local Area Development Programme, he added.
Rio highlighted that, in the backdrop of COVID-19 lockdown, the Department of School Education has come out with innovative education programmes which are being aired on the electronic media such as Tele/Radio Online Education, Online Evaluation Portal, Teachers APP and Continuous Learning & Monitoring Portal.
“These initiatives has ensure children to continue learning even under these difficult times and proves that dedicated efforts can bring about a paradigm shift in the quality of education especially in Government schools,” the DIPR report quoted the Chief Minister as saying.
Stressing on the law and order situation in the State, he stated that, it has remained by and large normal and under control. The proactive steps taken by the District Administration and Police all along have ensured a peaceful atmosphere.
Nagaland police has been in the forefront of the fight against CoVID-19 in every possible way, he said and mentioned, among others, the conversion the Ganeshnagar Special Economic Zone, Dhansiripar, Dimapur and operationalizing the largest Quarantine Facility in the State solely managed by the Officers, men and women of Nagaland Police to accommodate 1027 returnees.
Rio, expressed that, in these challenging pandemic, the enormity of the crisis has only spurred the State to put in more efforts, walk the extra mile and continue to put up a determined response to combat the calamity.
He convey an appreciation to each and every citizen of the State who has in his/her own way contributed and walked shoulder to shoulder with the Government for successful implementation of all measures taken to keep our people safe.
“This proves that we can achieve greater success through our strong traditions of community participation at all levels,” he added.
The pandemic has shown our resilience and our capacity to raise our efficiency, management and planning capabilities to further heights as well as meet the challenges on the economic front, he said.
Accordingly, he called upon every citizen to work in their own walks of life with the same zeal and spirit shown during the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
“Our determination and collective efforts will not only help us come out of this crisis, but will definitely help us take our State to greater progress and prosperity in months and years to come,” Rio added.