| Neiphiu Rio
Kohima, Jan. 6: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has given the best gift to Kohima on its 125th anniversary: a Rs 500-crore package to transform the state capital into a dream city.
Breaking the news at the inauguration of the 56th Kohima Village Sports Association-organised meet, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said the ADB had “adopted” Kohima and given his government the green signal to prepare a masterplan for development.
He said the state capital would switch to “fast-forward mode” and become one of the best cities of the country in a short span of time.
Signs of Kohima, which came into being in 1878, changing are already visible. The Kohima Town Committee office near the local ground has been demolished and in its place has come up the Quasqui Centennial Plaza, complete with a huge mural and an artificial waterfall. The chief minister inaugurated the plaza during the day.
The sports meet, which one enthusiastic official described as “our very own mini Olympics”, attracted hundreds of children and youths.
Champion athlete Ruokuovinuo Keseizie lit the flame with a torch brought from Kohima village by some veteran athletes.
A huge mascot of the state animal, mithun, made its way across the ground by a hanging wire amid applause.
An elaborately choreographed item by schoolchildren followed.
Groups of youths marched in contingents to the accompaniment of band tunes.
Fuelling the dream of a modern Kohima in this happy atmosphere, Rio said the development masterplan was being drafted by the planning department and would be submitted to the ADB for approval soon.
He said the ADB’s largesse was a harbinger of more glad tidings for Kohima on its anniversary.
“We are fortunate that the ADB has selected Kohima as one of the towns where it will fund development of infrastructure.”
The masterplan is expected to have separate sections on development of water supply, roads, parking space, plazas and beautification.
“The ADB’s help will be in form of a 90 per cent grant and 10 per cent loan,” chief secretary R.S. Pandey said.
The budget for the project was initially pegged at Rs 800 crore, but the Rio government later scaled it down to Rs 500 crore.
During his recent visit to Nagaland, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced a Rs-1,050 crore for the insurgency-ravaged state. A section of the grant is for renovation of the state’s road network.