Water holds key to ‘food grains for all Nagas by 2020’

With DAN Government’s ambitious announcement vision of “Food grains for all Nagas by 2020”, the small waterways and minor irrigation projects in the state might as well as turn out to be the main canal to fill the granary. The Minor Irrigation (MI) schemes under the centrally sponsored Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) during 2009-10, covers more than 800 Naga villages spread in the eight districts of Dimapur, Kohima, Mokokchung, Mon, Phek, Tuensang, Wokha and Zunheboto.
Chief minister Neiphiu Rio during the inaugural of NE Agri Expo 2010 in Dimapur, which was graced by Union Minister for Mines & DONER, B K Handique, announced that Nagaland government is moving towards a feasible and economically viable agriculture by 2020. However, whether the vision would materialize or still remain a mirage 18 years hence is a big question and would depend on sincerity and seriousness of the beneficiaries or “progressive farmers” and, without saying, the implementing departments.
Parliamentary secretary for Irrigation & Flood Control (I&FC) and Geology & Mining, Y Patton, who inspected five MI irrigation projects including “clusters” funded under AIBP schemes in Ralan sub-division, Wokha district, on Saturday expressed dissatisfaction with a couple of MI projects. “The beneficiary farmers should realize that these projects are solely for their long-term benefit. But it is unfortunate that most of them still think these MI schemes as ‘subsidies’ and take I &FC department as a subsidy department,” Patton said while inspecting a project (water harvesting pond) that fell short of the department’s expectations and specifications.
The I&FC parliamentary secretary cautioned that payment against the ongoing MI project works would not be released till the works were done as per specifications and guidelines of the department.
The parliamentary secretary who was accompanied by I&FC officials including executive engineer, Wokha, J Lanu Longchar, also informed that he would be personally inspecting other MI projects in all the districts. “Payments will be released only after the department is fully satisfied with the ongoing project works,” he said.
Inspecting one of the bigger MI projects in Ralan circle - Jandalashang project- a Rs. 1.13 crore project, which would benefit more than 200 households once completed, Patton expressed satisfaction over the ongoing works. EE (I&FC), Wokha, Lanu Longchar said the department is taking pains to see that the beneficiary individuals or villages are implementing the MI schemes strictly according to guidelines.
“Out of the 78 MI projects in Wokha district, I have visited and inspected around 50 projects so far and will cover the remaining projects in the following weeks,” Lanu said.  He also expressed hope that with the visit of the parliamentary secretary and the latter’s word of caution, the beneficiaries would take their work seriously.
It may be mentioned that in the last Assembly session, the I&FC department drew flak from the opposition bench due to poor workmanship of a MI project in Wokha district.