Construction of the much-awaited four-lane road project connecting Kohima, the Nagaland capital with Dimapur for onward link to the East-West Corridor in Assa came to a grinding halt five days ago, with state governor PB Acharya taking up the matter with union home minister Rajnath Singh on Monday.
Acharya, who met Singh in New Delhi on Monday, expressed his concern over extortion demands by insurgent groups including the one which compelled the contractors to stop work on the 4-lane highway between Dimapur and Kohima.
A statement issued by the Nagaland governor’s office said Acharya, while drawing the union home minister’s attention told him that if the construction work was not resumed immediately, the project would be severely affected. “With the monsoon already set in, it will not only be great embarrassment but will affect the supply of essential commodities also,” the statement quoted the governor as having said. “The matter was viewed seriously and the Home Minister also expressed his concern,” it added.
Local newspapers in Dimapur said some persons some persons identifying themselves as from the NSCN(IM) went to the construction company’s site office last Thursday and asked them to stop work until further orders. Since then, all work along the highway came to a grinding halt fearing the worst.
Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation (ACAUT) – an NGO that has been fighting against corruption in the hill state – on Monday asked the NSCN(IM) to clarify on reports which allegedly pointed the finger on its members for sending ‘tax’ demands to the companies engaged in construction of the 4-lane National Highway project.
“If yes, is it the policy of the NSCN(IM) to stop all developmental works in Nagaland pending final settlement of its peace-talks with the Government of India?” the ACAUT press note asked.
The NSCN(IM) however has refrained from making any comments for the moment on the issue. Replying to a query sent to its media and information wing by The Indian Express, the NSCN(IM) said it was not issuing any statement on the questions raised by ACAUT.
ACAUT also set a deadline of three days for the NSCN(IM) to make its stand clear. “In case the NSCN(IM) fails to give its reply within the stipulated time, then the automatic conclusion would be that it does not want the Nagaland people to enjoy fruits of development. In case the problem persists, the ACAUT would be forced to appeal to appropriate authorities having unpleasant consequences,” it stated.
Meanwhile, state Director General of Police LL Doungel on the other hand said there was no “official complaint” with the police regarding any threat or “tax” notice to the construction companies. “We have seen some NGOs making some accusations to the NSCN(IM). The construction companies have not lodged any official complaint so far,” Doungel told The Indian Express over the telephone.
The DGP however said that the state police had provided “adequate” security to the construction agencies engaged in the four-lane highway project in Nagaland. “We have provided them adequate security both in their camps and in the construction sites,” he said.