Respected Chairman, Shri Kelei Zeliang, the Secretary, Rural Development Department, Rev. Moa Longchari, Pastor, BMC, Kohima, Shri E. E. Pangteang, the Hon’ble Minister for Rural Development, Shri Pankaj Kumar, Chief Secretary, Shri Metsubo Jamir, Director, RD, my esteemed Cabinet colleagues, Hon’ble Advisers, Parliamentary Secretaries and MLAs, Senior Officers present here, Officers of Department of RD, my media friends, ladies and gentlemen.
I am delighted to be here today in your midst at VDB Conference 2017 at Kohima. I extend my warmest greeting to you all and especially those of you who have come from the different Districts representing your respective VDBs. I am confident that this conference will provide you all the right platform to be able to share your experiences, discuss your problems and come up with tangible strategies for more effective implementation of rural development programmes at the grassroot level.
It is a well-known fact that we have been pioneers in community development in the country. The concept of involving grassroot level functionaries in the process of development activities at the village level was for the first time institutionalized through the setting up of the Village Development Boards (VDBs) way back in 1976.
It was based on the success of the VDB system that had enabled the State Government to undertake another path breaking reforms known as communitization of public institutions with the passing of Communitization of Public Institutions and Services Act, 2002, by empowering and delegating the responsibility to the community in the management of local public utilities, services and select activities of the State Government with focus on ownership or responsibility. Our initiatives involving the traditional institutions in our development process won us accolades not only within the country but internationally.
When we talk about rural development, it is invariably linked with poverty alleviation and uplift of the living conditions of the rural masses. The mandate of RD Department is therefore to ensure that, apart from the implementation of the GoI and State programmes for poverty reduction and uplift livelihoods of the rural poor, it has to also necessarily take into consideration the socio-economic background and historical factors that have been responsible for our slow growth and development rate in the rural areas.
We have the unique history of becoming a State out of a political agreement. At the time of inception of the State, our literacy was very low, development almost non-existent and most of our habitations were confined to the villages with just a handful of towns in existence then. We were necessarily dependent on grants from Government of India then as a newly created state. However, what needs to be noted with due seriousness is that we still continue to almost wholly depend on the Govt. of India even today. The State inspite of making tremendous progress in terms of literacy and other human development indices especially in urban and town areas, our villages are still devoid of basic amenities of life. Therefore, the RD Department and VDBs which are entrusted for the development of rural areas has to seriously ponder on how we can attain the desired level of development. With the resources made available from the various Govt. of India Flagship programmes and State Government schemes being implemented over the years, we ought to take stock of our achievements and take it further beyond with appropriate strategies for sustained and inclusive development.
To meet the challenges of rural development and tackle rural poverty in the State, inherent bottlenecks have to be identified. Basically, our rural people are still largely dependent on agriculture marked by absence of skilled manpower for setting-up small and medium industries in villages coupled with lack of financial inclusion, poor connectivity and other infrastructures etc which are pre-requisites for facilitating development in rural areas has to be address appropriately. Multi level approach to increase investment in agriculture, watershed development and empowerment of women, skill development, use and application of information technology wherever feasible, innovative technology and best practices, amongst others, has to be vigorously undertaken to take rural development in the State to a higher level. Provision of urban amenities in rural areas, with special focus on connectivity, health care, educational institutions, sanitation, electricity and drinking water supply etc has to be ensured with multilayer convergence at all levels with inter and intra-Departmental programmes.
Implementation of MGNREGA is having direct impact on the livelihoods of the poor by way of providing much needed employment to poor rural households and simultaneously creating durable assets in the villages. Focus should be on how best the MGNREGA programme can be implemented to our advantage to reap optimal benefits by converging/ dovetailing with other programmes. Our experience on MGNREGA convergence has not been very encouraging. Convergence of activities with Horticulture, Forest, Land Resources, Roads & Bridges Departments and other allied Departments must be taken up on priority based on the feasibility and every effort must be made to ensure successful implementation of these projects. In all the Districts, Special Projects best suited to the village/area needs to be identified and taken up through MGNREGA convergence to have larger impact. With the successful outcome of these projects, I am sure tangible and visible MGNREGA projects can be seen across the State.
Infrastructure development is a necessity, but more importantly we should go for sustainable economy.
I understand that Special Convergence programme with Horticulture Department for undertaking massive cultivation of Cardamom in 10 Districts apart from Dimapur District covering approximately 10,000 hectares is being implemented from 2016-17 with the objective of declaring “Nagaland as Cardamom State”. It should be the collective will and responsibility of all the VDBs to ensure that such innovative projects with focus on income generating activities is successfully implemented to bring positive transformation and sustainable rural development for a vibrant village economy.
There is an imperative need to properly document the success stories of projects taken up/ best practices under various programmes and same shared for larger benefit by adopting similar projects and replicating the methods applied thereof so that the projects can be taken up in large scale depending on the feasibility of the area. This will further strengthen the outcome of the programmes and help tap properly and investments made in a more meaningful way for sustainable development.
Importing labourers, builders and illegal immigrant from outside is dangerous trend in ruining our economy.
Government is laying huge emphasis on skill development of women and youth. The availability of skilled work force will facilitate them to set up micro enterprises in villages and help in sustainable development. Skill development in various trades need to be taken up in all the Districts. Through skill development, tangible changes can be brought about in the village economy. Lack of skilled work force to a great extent have limited the scope of development in villages. This is the reason we have declared 2016 as year of “Construction workers”. Why should we depend to train our youth? VDB should come into a system and support from our MNREGA- We want good road but we don’t want to part our land. We cant build good road by ourselves as we dont have resource. We have to depend on centre and its coming with a good no of Central Project. The only thing we need is your support.
All the Government programmes are intended to achieve and take care of different facets of rural development and therefore equal importance and priority must be given to each programme to bring about holistic development which will go a long way in bringing about positive transformation and sustainable development of our villages.
To harness the best possible outcomes through successful implementation of various programmes, it is imperative that all stakeholders of rural development are adequately trained through capacity building. Trainings and orientation programmes needs to be imparted to acquire and apply knowledge, technology, methodology etc and therefore should be conducted to equip and place the village functionaries in a better position to deliver goods to the people. Your capacity building programme and Government mission should move together to make it a sustainable mission. VDB should Co-ordinate with YouthNet and Zynorique who are providing training in your District Hqrs.
The VDBs should ensure that Social audit is conducted at regular intervals in all the villages so as to bring about transparency and accountability in the implementation of various programmes. I urge the VDBs to rededicate in the service of our rural people. It is of utmost importance that the VDBs as a time tested institution must live upto to the expectations of the people by effectively ensuring better delivery of services for the benefit of the rural masses.
System can check corruption:
1. Example:- a) Food Security Act launched in July 2016.
By August we have covered all the Districts.
b) PHH- 5 Kgs per head (in Family) under PHH- @ Rs. 3/- per Kg.
c) AAY- 35 Kgs per HH @ Rs. 3/- per KG.
On the day of launching, I have openly announced – if any district is not getting their quota- Lodge complain I will take action on erring officer. So far no complain had been received from any Districts.
You can be misguided by any one, don’t believe too much on advocates, don’t believe too much on politician, But believe what is successful under your nose a summit. We hosted North East Connectivity in this same Hall just last month (22nd September, 2017).
2. Road connectivity in the state will be held tomorrow the 10th October, 2017. Here, every village needs to play their role – land owned by private.
Before I conclude my short speech, I wish to thank the Department of Rural Development for making me the Chief Guest in today’s conference which has given me this rare opportunity of meeting up with our village leaders from all the Districts. I also wish the deliberations in the conference all success.
This Press Release was sent by Mediacell CMO Nagaland, who can be contacted at azeunamcynhau(at)yahoo(dot)com