Tokheho Project Scan

The bold decision of the Minister of Housing & Works Tokheho to step up intensive verification of all ongoing projects taken up in the State under NEC, NLCPR, PMGSY, PM’s Package etc. should be welcomed. And rightly so, the Minister has taken the initiative to constitute 4 different inspection groups to carry forward this agenda covering all the eleven districts of Nagaland. It has to be mentioned that for too long, people have suffered because the fruits of development has failed to reach the common man whether of proper roads, housing, electricity or drinking water. The delivery system has not delivered the goods, rather those responsible for taking economic development to the grass roots—politicians, bureaucrats and contractors have gained at the expense of the poor and illiterate by way of siphoning off funds, incomplete projects and poor quality of implementation. All this has allowed a majority of people to remain disconnected from the development process. The delivery system has therefore done the reverse i.e. taking away benefits from people rather than giving them their due.

Hopefully, this initiative of the Minister will go a long way for the all round development of State. Taking a cue from this, other Ministers, especially those heading departments related to development, should likewise take similar initiative for proper monitoring and implementation of programs. This will help strengthen the delivery system and ensure the proper utilization of development funds. It is extremely unfortunate that even after more than forty years of Statehood, Nagaland has not come anywhere near the level of development that would have been expected commensurate to the amount of money that has poured into the State coffers from Delhi. This anomaly will have to be corrected if the fruit of economic development has to accrue to all sections of the people in respectable proportion. This has not been the case because the funds meant for the State has more often been diverted for personal wealth and other economic gains of the powerful few leaving the majority in serfdom. 

While the strict directives from Tokheho will no doubt inject the much needed enthusiasm, the Minister, besides looking at the progress of work, must also ensure the proper workmanship and durability of the end product. Unfortunately even among contractors, there are only a very few who work on the quality aspect. For most, procuring a contract is with the scope of maximizing ‘abnormal’ returns while drastically cutting down the production cost which is unethical and amounts to open embezzlement of the public exchequer. So besides looking at the timely completion of every project, the respective inspection group should also demand relevant information with regard to the workmanship for scrutiny. Those interested from the media can also be roped in to lend support during the scrutiny of such projects. Having an independent media tag along will give credibility to the exercise and ensuring transparency and accountability in the implementation of projects.