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As Nagaland turned 61 on Friday, Chief Minister Rio, in his statehood speech at a state-level function held at the Nagaland Civil Secretariat in Kohima, reiterated that his government, while making all efforts towards development and progress, continues to give ‘topmost priority’ to the peaceful resolution of the Naga Political Issue (NPI).

CM Neiphiu Rio Inspecting the parade contingents at 61st Statehood Day
CM Neiphiu Rio Inspecting the parade contingents at 61st Statehood Day. (DIPR photo)

Chief Minister Rio reiterated that addressing the NPI remains the “innermost desire” of the Nagas. He called upon all Naga political factions, the Government of India, and stakeholders to collaborate in overcoming remaining differences for a swift and harmonious resolution of the issue. Emphasizing ‘unity’ as the need of the hour, he urged everyone to renew and fortify bonds of unity and brotherhood.

Rio’s address, timely yet significant, coincides with recent tensions among Naga political groups. Last week, NNPGs criticized the NSCN-IM, deeming their Agreed Position and the IM’s Framework Agreement as ‘incomparable.’ However, this is not the first instance of discord within Naga factions. Moreover, it was only in August 2023 that NNPGs even accused Chief Minister Rio of prioritizing his ‘Chief Minister seat’ over facilitating the Indo-Naga political agreement.

In addressing developmental deficits in Eastern Nagaland and other regions, Rio highlighted the creation of the DUDA Department in 2003 and assured that both Central and State Governments are committed to uplifting the backward regions, aligning them with the rest of the state. While the Eastern Nagaland people are in dialogue with the Central government demanding separate statehood, Rio appealed to them to “commit to resolving any grievances through dialogue and understanding in the true spirit of Naga brotherhood.”

However, Rio’s speech comes amid Eastern Nagaland People’s Organization’s (ENPO) continued discontent. A year ago, ENPO abstained from the Hornbill Festival after the Centre failed to meet their “Frontier Nagaland” statehood demand. The demand for a Frontier Nagaland state is rooted in the perception of eastern Nagaland’s alleged underdevelopment for decades.

Notably, Rio highlighted the inauguration of Nagaland’s first Medical College -, the Nagaland Institute of Medical Sciences & Research – and the ongoing progress of a Medical College in Mon. He also commended the passing of the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2023 as a significant development in urban administration.

Regarding urban infrastructures, CM Rio said the urban infrastructure landscape, especially in the capital city, is being transformed under the Kohima Smart City Development Project. This remark comes despite CAG Report highlighting several deficiencies, including improper planning and injudicious utilization of resources regarding the Kohima Smart City Mission.

Rio also reported the construction or improvement of 2,500 km of roads in the past five years through collaborative efforts with State PWD and other Central agencies. Acknowledging that around 70% of the population are still dependent upon agriculture, Rio also announced the state’s initiative to integrate emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Drones in the agriculture sector. Additionally, he highlighted the launch of a War on Drugs by the Police and related Departments and the rapid upgrading of sports infrastructure across the state.

During the occasion, Chief Minister Rio launched the Nagaland School Safety Policy Digital Training Platform and Nagaland Disaster Risk Reduction Road Map. He also inaugurated a photo exhibition titled ‘Nagaland at 60,’ organized by the Information & Public Relations Department.

Mokokchung Times

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