Land issue biggest hurdle for any development: Rio

Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio. (DIPR Photo)

Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio. (DIPR Photo)

Morung Express News
Kohima | February 29

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio today stated that the biggest hurdle for any kind of development in Nagaland is ‘land issue’ asserting that Article 371 (A) is for protection of the state and its people, and not to impede developments.

The matter came up during the discussion on the Dikhu Hydro Project when MLA Nuklutoshi remarked, “Sometime I am confused with this article if it’s a blessing or a curse for the Nagas.”
To this, Rio remarked that he would not consider Article 371 (A) a curse, but for protection.

However, it should not be used as an excuse to hinder development, he added. 

Rio also hinted that the government intends to introduce measures that uphold the right of the government to carry out developmental activities.

While appreciating the Minister of Power, Kenye for actively making efforts for negotiations and extensions, Rio maintained that the government will not give up but suggested the department the department to explore upstream areas, if the villagers and landowners are willing to give land.

“We should immediately take up, and when the people agree to the proposed project, we will take up but why wait for forever. We cannot wait any longer,” he asserted. 

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister also commented that in cases where individuals or villages obstruct developmental activities, the apex body should intervene and overrule such obstruction. 

Local issue should be dealt with promptly, he opined. 

Rio shared about his meeting and proposal for the affected villages to move towards foothill areas wherein the government will purchase land and build houses for them which will create economic activities and opportunities.

The villagers were told to take advantage of such opportunities for progress and also assert the state's rights over the plains currently occupied by Assam due to non occupation, which unfortunately went unheard.

Expressing concern that Article 371 (A) often hampers development where people hold on to ‘land owner’s rights,’ Nuklotoshi said that even the most capable leaders would failed to bring any development.

“We always complain about lack of development but when development comes, we become the hurdle holding on to land owners right,” he note, adding satirically: “Even if God himself is our chief minister, there will be no developments.”

Citing some instances like ULB election, expansion of airports, railways, roadways, mineral resources etc where landowners rights has hindered development in the state, he suggested on the need to carefully evaluate Article 371 (A) by setting up a committee and seek balance between development for the public and preserving the article.

Meanwhile, he assured of all cooperation and support along with other members of the House if the department can find an alternative upstream for survey.

The Chief Minister urged the concerned department to explore alternate options and offered cooperation if they chose to survey upstream areas. He expressed frustration and stated that if the people continue to prioritize landowners' rights over progress, even the most capable leaders would struggle to bring about development.