Neiphiu Rio in his office in Kohima on Saturday. Telegraph picture
Kohima, Oct. 5: Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, whose government is facing a financial crisis, today sought more funds from the Centre by asking it to honour its earlier agreements. He also cautioned that not doing so could impede permanent peace in the state.
Discussing the matter on the sidelines of the second of the three-day visit of the 14th Finance Commission, Rio said the Centre had not honoured the 16-Point Agreement of 1960 that had led to the creation of Nagaland state.
He said this could upset the peace process as it would send the wrong message to Naga militants engaged in talks with the Centre. “If the government of India cannot honour the previous agreements, how will people come for another agreement?” he asked.
He said the Centre had not fulfilled Clause 11 of the 16- Point Agreement which provides for special financial assistance to the state, adding that the Centre had either unilaterally abrogated the clauses of the agreement or not implemented it till date. The Centre had changed the funding pattern for Nagaland in 1989.
Rio also highlighted Article 371(A) of the Constitution, under which Nagaland was granted special status in 1969. Requesting restoration of the status, he said, “The normative approach adopted by the 13th Finance Commission has further aggravated the financial position of the state.”
He said the Centre had also not implemented Clause 13 of the agreement on integration of contiguous Naga areas.
The clause, however, had left it to the desire of the people to come together.
Rio said the state government had tabled major thrust areas before the commission and hoped that it would consider these. He also hoped that the members would understand the unique history of the Nagas and their problems.
Rio said the delegates, led by the commission’s chairman Yaga Venugopal Reddy, had promised to take measures to correct the mistakes committed by the 13th Finance Commission.
Rio said Nagaland would celebrate 50 years of statehood on December 1 but it still did not have institutes worth mentioning like medical and engineering colleges and technical institutions. “I hope the 14th Finance Commission will come to our rescue,” he said.
He suggested that since law and order had considerably improved and the problem of insurgency had subsided, the Centre should focus on infrastructure and job opportunities instead of spending money on military and paramilitary forces.
He said the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had announced 25,000 jobs for Naga youths but it was not fulfilled after the NDA government was voted out of power.
He said his government would have to curtail new and ongoing development projects this fiscal because of less funding by the Centre and reduction of the state’s annual Plan for 2013-14.
However, the crisis will not affect the salary of government employees, he said, adding that a major chunk of the Pplan fund had to be diverted for their salaries.