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Govt breaks silence on ILP

Morung Express News
The Government of Nagaland cannot employ strong arm tactics to enforce Inner Line Permit (ILP) to check illegal immigration into the State for one overriding reason – almost every major infrastructure-development work in the State is carried out through the active labor of immigrants and not by ‘locals,’ the state’s top official said today.
The State administration has admitted complex constraints involved in checking the flow of illegal immigrants in Nagaland – particularly those from Bangladesh or Assam. The constraints are both political and social-cultural. The social-cultural constraints are the dynamics which characterize the social mindset of the Naga society concerning livelihood.
Chief Secretary to the Government of Nagaland, Lalthara, IAS, said Friday evening that the government on its own cannot do much to stem the situation. The reason is primarily economic – the almost non-existent ‘Naga workforce’ in the hard economic and commercial processes is in fact the chief reason why immigrants are pouring in, the top official said in one of his most candid interviews in the recent times.
‘Non-locals’ and immigrants are employed in almost all the economic sectors in the state, from small businesses to the construction industry, he said. ‘Because,’ he reminded, ‘local human resources are not engaged in the economic process.’  
‘Illegal immigrants come because there is work, income’
“The illegal immigrants don’t come here for sightseeing; they come here because there is work,” Chief Secretary Lalthara said Friday, February 10. Echoing common sentiments of most observers, he cited the instance of construction, building and hard development processes in the state. “If ILP is stopped, local contractors will suffer; there are no Nagas who work (in the sector). Dimapur is growing and there is more work; so long as there is work, people will come looking for earning; the demand (for workers) is there. It is a vicious cycle,” the official said.
This point is for the benefit of readers: that “work permits” are issued to workers as a general practice by contractors. The official strongly implied that if ILP are stopped, the contractors and the construction industry in general have none to undertake the tasks. Thus, a long and complex process of slowdown and deflation starts. “You cannot simply throw them out just like that,” Lalthara reminded.
A great part of the solution lies in the state’s local population to start taking control of their resources and economy, the official implied. “We need our people to work; road constructions, labor, business… there is a need for our people to take control of our development work, our economy,” the official said. “What if our people start taking up local works, construction, development works…if our local people start to work, illegal immigrants and others won’t be able to compete; they won’t be able to compete with our people,” Lalthara reminded.  
The absence of surveillance checks, survey works and hard data compilation on the number of illegal immigrants in Nagaland is another obstacle to strategizing action plans to check illegal immigrants. There are no hard data on their population. In 2003, the Nagaland government estimated that in the foothills of the Assam-Nagaland borders alone, there are approximately one lakh illegal immigrants.  
A book on illegal immigration into Nagaland ‘A study into Illegal Immigration into NE India: The case of Nagaland’ estimates anywhere from 100, 000 to 300,000 illegal immigrants in the state itself. The book was published by Associate Professor Dr. M Amarjeet Singh, of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, New Delhi. More than one decade back, in 2000, the Union Home Ministry of India had estimated at least 75,000 illegal immigrants in Nagaland. The figures over the preceding 10 years can only be imagined.
Lalthara emphasized that the Naga population needs to start taking control of their economic processes and “build our own workforce. Let us learn to do the very work which is bringing in illegal immigrants into the state.”
The official was also queried on initiatives at the political and policy level. There are complexities which he implied are directly associated with the social-cultural dynamics. The factors are those mechanisms such as the ILP system cannot entirely control. For instance, the Indo-Myanmar border is even more porous than the Assam-Nagaland borders, Lalthara said. Yet in the case of the former, people come in do their business and leave. But in the latter, he added, people come in and never leave because there is income and work here in the state itself. The chief secretary had a question: “if you have nothing to give them (immigrants), why would they come here to take?”

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