Expand Communitisation

Against the backdrop of the suggestion made in The Morung Express editorial ‘State Irresponsibility’ (March 13 issue) calling for handing over of the mismanaged Intangki National Park to the community, the State government should likewise seriously consider the option of expanding the scope of communitisation beyond those services already under this novel programme. The government cannot shy away from the fact that many of the institutions and services under its authority are failing to deliver on its stated objective. Just to take one example is the manner in which the running of the Intangki National Park has been bungled. Apart from the heavy logging which is illegal, encroachers have reportedly also started a settlement inside the Park. Despite the Nagaland government assurance that the encroachers will be evicted and the Park protected, illegal activities are still rampant in the forest. According to forest officials the state government has also adopted several policies and guidelines, but this could not be implemented due to the presence of underground cadres. A senior forest official has even admitted that the park has gone out of the hand of the department. And even if the state government feels that it can revive the park, this will require the necessary political will and a firm policy. But that is a big question mark.

There is no use for the government to hold on to the park when it cannot even have control over managing and protecting this valuable resource forest land. If the Zeliangrong people, who are the traditional owner of the forest, feel that they can assist in preservation and conservation of the park, the government can help solve the problem by bringing in the community. The government must realize that it cannot run everything on its own. It will require the active involvement of the private sector and the community. However privatization cannot be overly emphasized in the present context and only a few areas can be considered for this model. If the rationale behind the government of Nagaland enacting the Communitisation Act 2002 has to be fully realized, more needs to be done in order to share with the communities the responsibilities for managing institutions and services in various sectors. 

The government should seriously ponder over the question of whether it is competent enough to run wildlife sanctuaries and national parks across the length and breadth of the State. Elementary education, electricity management in villages and health services has already been handed over to the community and the results are encouraging. Similarly other successful model of community participation that one can cite of is the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary which has been set up by the people of Khonoma in 1998 to rear the Blythe’s Tragopan pheasant in captivity. The sanctuary is privately owned and managed by the villagers of Khonoma. Likewise in Zunheboto district, the Ghosu Bird sanctuary protects over 20 species of endangered birds and is maintained by the village community. As such, the advantages of communitisation are obvious. And because by tradition Nagaland has a very rich human resource in the form of community spirit and action as a way of life, Communitisation may just be the way of reviving this tradition so that the available resources could be gainfully used for all round development of the people and the society.