CHRONICLE BUREAU IMPHAL, 24th dec:
Making his stand clear on the issue of safeguarding the territorial integrity of Manipur, Chief minister N Biren has declared that he would step down from the post of chief ministership if the Centre tries to bring about a solution to the Indo-Naga peace talk by undermining the interest of Manipur without consulting its people and the government.
In an exclusive interview with The People’s Chronicle, Biren said that his government is well aware of the present situation in Manipur in the wake of the framework agreement signed between government of India and NSCN-IM. It is a good step on the part of leaders of various civil society organisations who are camping at the national capital to raise the issue over non-disclosure of the contents of the framework agreement.
“However, I believe that the central government would not take up any decision which could hurt the interest of the state without the knowledge and consent of the people of Manipur and the government,” Biren affirmed.
While extending Christmas greetings to the people of the state, the chief minister said that it is the blessing of the Almighty that his government has been able to bridge the trust deficit and promote social harmony, which had been lacking between the people of the hills and valley in the past.
“The ‘Lets Go to Hills’ slogan and campaign of the state government is its first initiative to find out and understand the issues and problems being faced by the people of the hills by getting directly in touch with the hill people and take up developmental programmes accordingly as per requirement,” Biren said.
Though there has been no written policy, the state cabinet decided to take up various development programmes in the hills and so far, the government has sanctioned Rs 280 crore for taking up 97 different development works, he added.
Informing that the need to bring out a topographical need based budget for the state of Manipur was his first proposal to the centre soon after his party formed the government in the state, CM N Biren claimed that the North Eastern Road Infrastructure Development Authority which was formed under the DoNER ministry was based on the proposal he placed before the centre.
After the formation of the authority, the central government has taken up initiatives for separate processes for development of roads in Assam, Tripura and Manipur. Process is also underway to develop Kamjong, Henglep and Kaiphundai to Tousem roads under the authority, he said.
Replying to a query on whether his BJP led coalition government has any plan to bring about a political solution to the insurgency problem in the state, CM Biren said that he has always impressed upon the national leaders that the process of the centre in trying to bring about a political solution to the insurgency problem in the state on community lines will not serve the purpose. If at all a permanent solution is to be brought about, then there is the need for political dialogue with all the insurgent groups in the state without basing on community lines, the CM maintained.
He also disclosed that a rehabilitation policy has been newly adopted as a part of the confidence building measure and the same sent to the centre for approval. Though the approval has not yet arrived, implementation of the policy has been already started by the government in the state.
On the issue of frequent flooding in the state and the problems being faced by the people, chief minister Biren said that the government has taken up initiatives to dismantle all illegal constructions from within or near the river banks and a notice in this regard will be issued soon.
An understanding between the state government and the NHPC has been arrived at to form a committee which will manage the Ithai Dam. Moreover, the opening of the dam will be automatically done.
The chief minister also said that tree plantation at catchment areas will be taken up along with dredging the river beds before the onset of monsoons, for which dredging machines will be purchased. A proposal for buying the machines which cost around Rs 6 crore has been sent to LDA and hopefully it will be finalized soon, he added.