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Exorbitant Rates

The joint representation made by the Eastern Naga Students’ Federation (ENSF) and Nagaland Voluntary Consumers’ Organisation (NVCO) to the Chief Secretary, Government of Nagaland and subsequently the Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, New Delhi demanding for cancellation of the work for construction of 9 (nine) Nos of RCC Bridges under Special Packages (SPA) for Eastern Nagaland and the anomalies brought out in the lengthy representation is an eye opener. While most are aware about the corruption taking place within the government system, yet the manner and style in which this is happening is often kept outside public knowledge. However in the last few years ever since the Right to Information Act has become operative, clear evidences are coming out about how the corrupt people are operating.
That rates being quoted for government works are usually on the higher side is something that is not unexpected. However one would have never imagined the exorbitant rates awarded to the contractors/firms for development works. And in fact it has been revealed that the contract being done by some of the non-local firms are being done at such high rates of even 500% to 1000% above of NPWD Schedule of Rates 2010 (Roads & Bridges). And it is not a surprise that some of the non-local firms are favoured to undertake major development works because they are able to give away huge commissions to all and sundry and even after that, they are able to make windfall profits. The exorbitant rates charged above the Schedule of Rates by some of the firms/contractors are proof that there is a well knit nexus operating that allows all kinds of favour and corruption. And all this is being done at the cost of public money and development. The State government, which from time to time complains about how poor we are, is in fact losing huge revenue by allowing such corrupt practices. Also some of these non-local firms make huge profit but in return they would probably never invest back in the State. It is similar to the ‘drain of wealth’.
We can go on and on about the corruption taking place in our State. And there are too many loop holes in our present system. Also corruption has become a way of life and there is no urgency or commitment to fight corruption and improve the system. During the most recent meeting convened by the Chief Secretary of top bureaucrats in the State, it was brought to light that many officers had the habit of keeping government money in their personal bank account. However, just to term these as illegal and cautioning the officers is not enough. Concrete measures should be brought in, enough checks and balances must be created besides action must be taken against the corrupt. But in Nagaland we know that such ideas would never be accepted by the establishment. Perhaps the only possibility could be in not completely eradicating corrupt practices but at least reducing the amount of corruption taking place. While there is nothing wrong in making profit, this should not become blatant. We must distinguish between profit and greed. Also the exorbitant rate quoted is also to pay commissions not just to the politicians or bureaucrats but also to the parallel governments operating. Cost cutting measures wherever possible should be taken and this could begin by reducing corruption and extortion at the highest levels.

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