Nagaland: DMC constrained by lack of revenue generation

Garbage piled up at Dimapur town in September of last year as DMC workers went on strike due to non payment of salaries, brought about by fund constraints. (Morung File Photo)

Garbage piled up at Dimapur town in September of last year as DMC workers went on strike due to non payment of salaries, brought about by fund constraints. (Morung File Photo)

Mongsentong Longkumer 
Dimapur | January 13 

The Dimapur Municipal Council (DMC) has been struggling with revenue generation for the last few months, apparent from their workers’ agitation against non-payment of salaries in September 2022 and the lack of proper upkeep of the city. 

In May of 2022, the Home Department, Government of Nagaland issued a notification ordering for the closure of all collection of money at check-gates by government departments, including the municipal and town councils, except for the interstate police check gates. 

This change in the status quo has badly affected the DMC, stated W Manpai Phom, Administrator of DMC. In a recent exclusive interview with The Morung Express, he mentioned that collection of entry fees, which has now been stopped, was the main source of revenue for the DMC. 

“At the moment we are going through a difficult time,” he added.

The undercutting of its main revenue source accounting for approximately 60% had a cascading effect in terms of non-payment of salaries for its workers who were mostly under the contractual payroll. 

For now the government has approved for supporting the shortfalls faced by the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) for salary expenses, he said. “This was in the form of instalment basis which we received and could pay off two months’ salary of the staffs and we were able to pull through for December.” 

“But come this 2023, we don’t know what will be the fate of the workers,” he remarked. 

As per the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001, the DMC is a self-sustaining autonomous body that is required to generate its own revenue. Under section 120 of the act, it empowers the ULBs to raise their own taxes for generating revenue.

These generally come in the form of toll tax, sanitary tax, issuing trade licence, and house rents generated from property assets which the DMC depend upon.

As Nagaland comes under the purview of a special provision (Article 371A), property taxes are not imposed on its citizens. In other urban areas, the main source of revenue for the municipalities is the property tax. 

Prior to the closure, Albert Ezung, former administrator of DMC had also previously noted that the DMC had been obtaining the toll tax and other entry fees from the entry gate at New Field check gate, Dillai and Khatkati Gate. 

“If the revenue sources are stopped, then we will be unable to pay salaries to the staff. What’s more, if we don’t go for garbage collection then Dimapur town will be flooded with garbage, only then people will know the importance of DMC,” he had warned at that time. 

The current administrator however added that, “regardless we are trying our best to improve our internal revenue generation methods.” He further urged the public to “understand our problem and try to cooperate with us. We are also trying our best with the system and manpower that is in place.” 

New shopping-cum-parking complex yet to be inaugurated 
As for the newly constructed shopping-cum-parking complex at New Market, the DMC administrator revealed that, “we are yet to officially inaugurate it which will happen soon.” Post-inauguration, the parking fees will be charged for the facility to augment revenue constraints.

This was because “we are looking into implementation of parking fees at designated locations as per government approved rates,” he said. 

Because of the parking congestion during the winter season last year, the facility was allowed to be operated. However once it is officially launched it will be with parking fees, he noted.  This will be implemented in other locations as well within the main town area. 

As for 2023, a promulgated action plan on waste management, a proper in-depth system of solid waste management including treatment of legacy waste and fresh waste was in the making for the DMC, crucially at the market areas which generates the most amount of waste.