| Performers in their traditional attire at the Hornbill Festival in Kisama. File picture |
Kohima, Dec. 5: The government has yet to release the salaries of its employees while in some departments employees have not received their salaries for many months, including teachers appointed under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Hindi teachers.
It is little wonder therefore that people are feeling the pinch and attending the Hornbill Festival could be the last thing on their minds.
Government officials feel that the 10-day festival, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the state this year, has been impressive so far but residents of Kohima said it has failed to attract visitors as expected by its organisers.
The turnout at Kisama, 12km from Kohima, where the festival is being held, has been low compared to the previous years.
The state government has even brought foreign journalists to cover the festival. “But the people are not in a mood to celebrate this year because of financial problems,” said Ashok Kumar, a shopkeeper.
This year’s budget for the festival is Rs 3 crore.
The Centre had reduced the state’s annual plan by 26 per cent.
The Nagaland Contractors and Suppliers Union has warned that it would resort to an agitation if its pending bills were not released soon.
The Opposition Congress has dubbed the Neiphiu Rio-led NPF government an “entertainment government”.
The organisers of the 10-day International Hornbill Rock Concert, held at Naga Solidarity Park on the outskirt of Kohima, said they were satisfied with the audience but concert-goers said it was disappointing for the bands to perform in front of such a thin crowd. “The attendance of spectators is not bad,” said Xavier Rutsa, a member of the organising committee of the contest.
According to shop owners and businessmen, the night carnival, which begins from 4pm to 8pm at down town Kohima, PR Hill and High School Junction, has not being doing well.
“The crowd this year is thin and we are not doing good business,” said Khriebu Theunuo, a Naga chutney and bread seller. She has stopped selling during the carnival, as it was not worth sitting in the corner of the town till 8pm in December. “It is just waste of time and energy,” she said.
A Kachari woman from Assam, who also deals with Naga rice cakes, said she could not sell enough this year. “I think people do not have money that is why they are not coming to the carnival,” she said.
However, Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) has become the hottest selling product despite being banned by the authorities.
“I am afraid the festival is fading out unless the government takes measures to sustain it and promote vibrant Naga tradition and culture,” said Ashikho Mao, a journalist in the state.
However, an NPF insider said financial crisis of the state would become history after the 2014 general election.