Starred questions and replies during Fourth Session of 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly

Kohima: Centre suggested State Govt to apply for Foothill Road project under PM Gati Shakti Scheme and not under SARDP: TR Zeliang

BY | Sunday, 3 March, 2024

In the recently concluded Fourth Session of the Fourteenth Nagaland Legislative Assembly, several ‘Starred Questions’ pertaining to the State were raised by representatives of the people and replied to by the concerned Ministers in charge. The queries were raised by MLAs Nuklutoshi, Kuzholuzo Nienu, Achumbemo Kikon and A. Nyamnyei Konyak.


i. Illegal coal mining – MLA Nuklutoshi (27 February 2024)

Replying to the query, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said that there were 45 Coal Mining License holders in coal bearing areas of Wokha, Mokokchung, Longleng, Tuensang and Mon. He said the Department is conducting awareness campaigns but accounting illegal coal mines is difficult due to the unique land holding system in Nagaland.

Deputy Chief Minister, TR Zeliang requested local MLAs of the coal bearing areas to play an important role in sensitizing to local populace on the harmful effects it has on human health, vegetation and the environment as a whole due to unscientific practice of coal mining.

Advisor IPR and Soil & Water Conservation, Imkong L Imchen informs that his Department has submitted a proposal to be taken up as a pilot project responding to the issues caused due to the impact of coal mining across the State. The project has been approved by the Ministry and is tabled with the State Level Sanction Committee, he added.

MLA Nuklutoshi stated that coal play a crucial role in meeting the energy demands, however it has raised concerns in the degrading of the environment and hazard to humans if not mined in a controlled manner. Therefore, he called on the concern Department to create public awareness and to make sure that scientific coal mining is being practiced.

Read more: M Rio says number of illegal coal mines in Nagaland unknown due to unique land holding system

ii. Terms of references for issuing Coal Mining License – MLA Achumbemo Kikon (1 March 2024)

CM and Minister-in-charge, Neiphiu Rio, provided the list of ten documents required for obtaining Coal Mining License (CML).

Stating that illegal mining has become rampant in many parts of the state, MLA Kikon calls for proper scientific mining methods and stringent regulations by the government. He also questioned the low revenue generation from coal mining and the huge revenue gap between 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 (Rs 9,91,82,730 during 2022-2023 and Rs 3,41,42,645 during 2023-2024).

Deputy Chief Minister TR Zeliang cited that the high sulphur content of coal from Nagaland makes it low quality with less profitability. The limited import of coal imposed by the Ministry of Coal led to increase in demand for coal from Nagaland, which added substantial revenue to the state exchequer in 2022-2023, he said. Bangladesh is a major consumer country of Nagaland coal but cheaper imported coal from the US and Indonesia led to decrease in demand for Nagaland coal.

Minister of Tourism and Higher Education, Temjen Imna Along suggested the establishment of government authorized depots, issuing of license to capital-backed miners only and advance GST bookings to curb non-repayment of GST and preventing exploitation of people and coal resources in the state.

MLA Nuklutoshi said that 45 licenses have been issued legally but the mining operation is being done illegally and hazardously. He suggested bringing in big companies who can ensure proper and ethical mining for the benefit of the people and the state.

Deputy CM TR Zeliang said any discrepancies will be verified by expert team and local MLAs will be invited during the verification process, corrective measures then will be taken accordingly, he said. Designated depots are in operation since 2014 and royalty is to be paid through challans while coal is to be transported through transit pass, he mentioned.

iii. Revenue generation of Hornbill Festival – MLA Achumbemo Kikon (27 February 2024) 

Minister Temjen Imna Along informed that the State Government sanctioned Rs 5.50 crore to organise Hornbill Festival 2023 and Rs 17,11,980 was added to the State Exchequer from various heads. Direct government revenue generation from the festival may not be treated as a priority, but that the festival generates more than twenty-fold times in return for the economic partners of the festival which are infused into the local economy, he said.

In reply, MLA Kikon pointed out that the revenue generated from the festival is “meager” compared to the investment and that the government can and should take steps to generate more revenue from the festival. He also urged the government to promote “Border and Rural Tourism” and include such tourisms in the upcoming 25th Hornbill Festival, keeping in mind the needs and aspirations of the people in the border areas.

Read more: Tourism Minister claims pilferage don’t happen in Hornbill Festival

iv. Extension of Railway line from Furkating Railway Station to Baghty Town – MLA Achumbemo Kikon (27 February 2024)

Minister Health & Family Welfare, P Paiwang Konyak, said that the Final Location Survey is yet to be done by the Railway Board and also added that the authorities are apprehensive of the project as surveys have indicated a negative return of revenue from the proposed railway line.

CM Neiphiu Rio highlighted the importance of road and railway connectivity in ushering economic development in the State and said that the Government would definitely work towards establishing the railway line in question.

v. Total number of subject wise sanctioned teacher posts in all government high schools – MLA Kuzholuzo Nienu (27 February 2024) 

Minister of Rural Development and Minister in charge, Metsübo Jamir, provided all the facts and figures and stated that the department would try to restructure and streamline the appointment and posting process in accordance with the vacancies at the earliest.

Read more: SS is General Subject, can be taught by Science and English teachers: Minister Metsübo

vi. Railway line between Dimapur and Tizit – A. Nyamnyei Konyak, MLA (27 February 2024)

Minister-in-charge of Transport, P Paiwang Konyak responded that the Final Location Survey from Dimapur Tizit new line is kept in abeyance. The Ministry of Railways had communicated that the project could be expedited if the state government bears 50% of the project cost and also asked the state to provide land free of cost, he said.

Read more: 14th NLA: Minister Paiwang assures all efforts to fulfill Dimapur-Tizit railway line project

vii. Construction of National Highway – 29 NHIDCL Project Package-2 – MLA Kuzholuzo Nienu (27 February 2024) 

Deputy CM TR Zeliang replied that all are equally concerned about the road development. He clarified that the work order was issued on 5th January 2024 which should be completed by 3 January 2026 and the NHDICL have already issued notice to start work, however in 170 meters on three (3) pockets some structures are yet to remove demanding higher compensation which is a hindrance to start the work.

Work was first awarded to the EPC Contractor M/s KCPL but was terminated on 17 April 2023 and later awarded to the EPC Contractor M/s Ratna infrastructure Projects Pvt Ltd at the original cost is Rs 202 crore and remaining only Rs 69 crore.

viii. Status of Dikhu Hydro Project – MLA Nuklutoshi (29 February 2024)

K G Kenye, Minister of Power and Parliamentary Affairs, said that the Dikhu Hydro Project Land survey measurement in Mon and Mokokchung districts has been successfully completed, however the process in Longleng district has trailed behind due to objections by the two villages – Nyang and Kangching.

Out of 15 project areas, 13 villages from the three districts Mon, Longleng and Mokokchung have consented for development of the project. The minister mentioned that negotiation with the landowners of the two villages in Longleng is in process. Kenye also said that this project is of the utmost importance since it has high potential to create educational facilities and medical facilities, commercial activities for individuals and groups, and can generate about 186 MW of electricity which will be sufficient for the State as a whole.

ix. Procedure for release of funds and monitoring of funds under CSS – MLA Kuzholuzo Nienu (29 February 2024)

Chief Minister and Minister in Charge of Finance Neiphiu Rio replied that the procedure for release of funds under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) and monitoring utilisation of funds has been instructed by the Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India.

When asked about the reason for the delay in releasing the funds, the CM replied that some of the reasons for the delay are: delay in receipt of details of sanction in the Public Financial Management System (PFMS), process delays that may happen in any of the five Offices/ Departments, Directorate/ Secretariat, Department/ Planning & Transformation Department/ Finance Department/Treasury, and debiting wrong head of account or deposit into the wrong SNA Bank account thus resulting in delays.

MLA Nienu enquired whether the PFMS had been operational in all districts, the Chief Minister replied that it is fully functional in all the districts. CM Rio also added that the Department is following the SOP prescribed by the Ministry of Finance while releasing the funds under CSS as it is mandatory.

x. Constituencies covered under DUDA – A. Nyamnyei Konyak, MLA (29 February 2024)

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio informed that there were 29 constituencies covered under Department of Under Developed Areas (DUDA). He also informed that the budget was proposed to be enhanced by Rs one crore, bringing the total budget proposed for DUDA under State Plan to Rs 24 crore.

xi. Executive Engineer division at Mon – A. Nyamnyei Konyak, MLA (29 February 2024)

Minister-in-Charge, Kaito Aye informed that the case is being examined.

Status of Foothill Road – A Nyamnyei Konyak, MLA (1 March 2024)

Minister PWD (Roads & Bridges), G. Kaito Aye said that the earthwork in formation cutting and embankment of 128 km (single lane road configuration) from Dimapur to Tizit along with one RCC Bridge near Governor’s Camp has been completed. Stating that the project amount is too high for NEC to bear, Aye expressed gratitude to the CM for allotting an amount of Rs 148.50 crores out of the State Fund from the budget towards the project.

xii. Road construction of Foothill Project from Tuli to Niuland – MLA Nuklutoshi (1 March 2024)

On the starred question raised on the road construction of Foothill Project from Tuli to Niuland NH 61 (2) via Longchem – Champang – Governor’s Camp under SARDP – NE Phase – B, Minister in-charge, National Highway TR Zeliang replied that a sum of Rs 1.43 crore has been slated for the said project by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways but also mentioned that Centre suggested the State Government to apply for the given project under PM Gati Shakti Scheme and not under SARDP. He added that the state is now pursuing the sanction for the project under PM Gadi Shakti Scheme and for early sanction for the given project while also finding other avenues for the funding mechanism.

On the question of completing the project by identifying and focusing the bottlenecks raised by the Minister, Nuklutoshi suggested to rather work upon systematically working on the competition of the project and appealed all the BJP Legislators hailing from Foothill Project areas to make a special effort to pursue the government at the Centre.

xiii. Establishment of Election Office at Tobu – A. Nyamnyei Konyak, MLA (1 March 2024)

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio assured he will reexamine and do the needful.

xiv. Recruitment of constables under the Home Department – MLA Kuzholuzo Nienu (1 March 2024)

Deputy Chief Minister (Home), Yanthungo Patton confirmed that the recruitment of constables will be carried out through open recruitment. He provided detailed information regarding the categories of posts, the number of posts to be advertised, and the eligibility criteria. Furthermore, Patton clarified that the recruitment would not be based on the existing reservation policy but on tribal quotas as per the population ratio.

Read more: Constable recruitments to be done through open recruitment, Y Patton says

(Sourced from DIPR, Nagaland. All photos are credit of @naga_assembly_/X)

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