The suggestion for an autonomous regional council for six backward eastern districts of Nagaland, if it materialises with the funds, powers and function of a mini-State within a State, it could be a precursor for the hill areas of Manipur where such demand exist mainly on account of backwardness similar to that faced by the eastern Naga areas of Nagaland. This could get incorporated in the larger Naga peace settlement along with other extra and extraordinary features.
By Ngaranmi Shimray
Considering the very high tendencies on the part of the advanced tribes or communities to take away lion’s share of development and funds and also to manipulate statistics to show a huge amount of funds have been given to the backward area when in fact it is spent on the developed part of the State, for example, state roads, transmission lines, downstream benefits of dams etc, it is felt that the current suggestion for an autonomous council for six backward eastern districts of Nagaland is an excellent suggestion to bring about an empowered local self government for the backward districts to have a single regional council. Provided, this arrangement is enshrined in the Constitution by law of Parliament and not given by law of the State like the Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) in Manipur.
The regional council should get separate budget line of funds from each department in the State budget for which they should be allowed to plan, approve and sanction by their Secretariat in the regional council headquarter headed by an Additional Chief Secretary rank officer working under the orders of the Regional Council. There should be Rules of business transaction etc for the regional council under which the orders of the council will be discharged by the officers of the council authorised to do so.
The council should be enabled to receive funds directly from central ministries/central bodies if it has been sanctioned for the council and allowed to be implemented by the council adhering to the conditions stipulated in the sanction order from the ministry/central bodies. They should have a panel of officers reviewed after every 3 years of which at least 50% of them should be the choice of the council for deployment as DC, ADC, CEO, BDO district officers etc and also similarly in respect of police officers of police stations, forest officers and staffs, medical doctors and staffs etc.
All major central projects would be implemented by the department concerned at the State Headquarter if so provided in the sanction order. Minor central projects directly sanction for the council shall be implemented by the council as per the conditions provided in the sanction order. Central programmes and schemes for the State will be implemented as provided in the scheme but the role of the Chief Secretary as implementing and monitoring head shall be exercised by the executive head at the Council of Additional Chief Secretary level officer.
The Chief Secretary shall thereafter forward the consolidated report to the ministry concerned in respect of central programme and schemes. The council should have certain law making powers related to the council areas but the laws should be in consonance with the State policy. There should be a infrastructure gap funding for the 6 backward districts which should be designed to bring up the socio-economic status of the backward areas at par if not above that of the State level.
This offer by the Central Government is very good and reasonable as it addresses the backwardness grievances of the area and give them an empowered local self government enabling them to govern themselves. Considering the current political impasse to the Naga peace settlement issue, granting a State would be an agenda no one would like to consider at this stage. Furthermore, the suggestion for a regional council if it materialises with the funds, powers and function of a mini-State within a State, it could be a precursor for the hill areas of Manipur where such demand exist mainly on account of backwardness similar to that faced by the eastern Naga areas of Nagaland and could get incorporated in the larger Naga peace settlement along with other extra and extraordinary features.
(Ngaranmi Shimray is an activist based in New Delhi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. Views expressed are his own.)