On this auspicious occasion of the 66th Republic Day, I extend my warm greetings, felicitations and best wishes to all those who have gathered here today and to all the people of Mizoram. It was on this day 66 years ago that we became a democratic republic guided by the principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as enshrined in the Constitution. As we look back in pride and hold our heads high at our growth, progress and achievements; let us offer our sincere gratitude, profound respect and humble homage to the founding fathers of the Nation and to all those who toiled hard to give us the Constitution which guarantees to each and every one of us equal freedom and equal rights. Let us re-dedicate ourselves to nurture, safeguard and strengthen the democratic systems and values enshrined in our Constitution.
I have come to Mizoram as Governor of the State to share the joys and sorrows, sufferings and achievements, ethos and culture, history, myth and songs of Mizoram and to become a part and parcel of the Mizo culture and to be one among the Mizo citizens.
I would leave no stone unturned in doing my best and in rendering my humble cooperation and service to make Mizoram a prosperous, healthy, peaceful, progressive and developed State in all walks of life.
Peace and tranquility are pre-requisites for progress and development. It is fortunate that we have efficient law enforcing agencies, supportive non-governmental organizations, churches, religious institutions, media and the general public who have all helped maintain our status as one of the most peaceful states in the country. Let us vow to fight against sectarianism and all that try to create differences and divide us. Let us stand up against elements that try to harm our diverse social fabric and harmonious co-existence.
• My Government is committed to continue the flagship programme of New Land Use Policy (NLUP) and we have decided to extend the project beyond this year for which preparation of Supplementary Plan is underway. NLUP has made good progress in uplifting the economy of the state and in providing sustainable means of livelihood to the people. The State Government, under the umbrella of NLUP, signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations on 16th October, 2014 called “Joint Initiative on Eco-System based Livelihood Promotion in Mizoram”. The initiative will encompass issues relating to food security, livelihood security, energy and environmental security, ecological balance, income generation, promotion of sustainable livelihood and protection of the eco-system. In addition to these, trans-border animal disease control system is another important area to be covered in the project. It is indeed a remarkable achievement on the part of the state government to rope in the UNO for the first time in Mizoram. This project is initially designed to cover a period of 3 years from 2014 to 2017.
The UN Joint Initiative will be implemented with the participation of the following UN Agencies namely; United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) and United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
• Agriculture and allied sectors provide sustainable livelihood support to people in rural areas and these sectors are key to economic development. Hence, farmers and people engaged in these sectors are being empowered with new technologies and harvest methods to increase crop production and productivity. Jhum cultivation is also at a decreasing trend as many farmers have opted for permanent system of cultivation through the introduction of improved system of farming. Oil Palm cultivators are getting remunerative prices from Oil Palm cultivation and there are some progressive farmers who are getting Rs 3.20 lakh per month by selling the Fresh Fruit Bunch (FFB). Oil Palm Mill at Bukvannei, Kolasib District with a capacity of 5 MT per hour has been commissioned in October 2014 and establishment of another two Oil Palm Mills at Lunglei and Serchhip are in the pipeline. Under NLUP passion fruit, squash, pineapple and orange growers and broom cultivators have already started earning regular income from their harvests since last year. Centre of excellence is being established underMissionfor Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) at Saichhoh near Haulawng village to serve the need of farmers in Lunglei District. To increase milk production and to pave way for marketing of milk, Indigenous Milk Product Manufacturing Plant with a capacity of 5000 litres per day is being set up at Mizoram Milk Producer’s Cooperative Union Limited (MULCO) Complex and will be ready for commissioning very shortly. To increase the porcine population in the state, a Piggery Farm at Thingsulthliah with strength of 200 sows’ unit is being set up.
• Improving connectivity is one of the top priorities and my Government is doing its utmost for the maintenance and improvement of roads. Upgradation of Saitual - Phullen road; Mamit - Bairabi road; Keitum - Artahkawn road and construction of Bridge over River Tuivawl on Saitual - Saichal - NE Bualpui road have been completed during 2014. Formation cutting of about 44.00 kms and blacktopping of about 31.47 kilometres have been completed under PMGSY scheme during 2013-2014 and 24 villages have been connected. Work on Chhumkhum - Chawngte road; Champhai - Zokhawthar road; Tlabung - Kawrpuichhuah road; Improvement of Serchhip - Thenzawl - Buarpui road; Aizawl - Reiek - W. Lungdar road and Strengthening and rehabilitation of W.Phaileng - Marpara road (80.00 kms) are going on smoothly. During 2014, four new National Highways - NH-306A, NH-302, NH-6 and NH-102(B) have been declared in Mizoram. For improvement of air transport facilities, 10 Helipads are to be constructed for which sanction has been obtained from Ministry of DoNER. Upgradation ofLengpuiAirportis also in progress.
• Mizoram has a vast potential for generating hydroelectricity and we are exploring all possible options to increase our power generation and reduce Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT&C) loss. To enhance Hydel generation capacity, the Power Department is taking up construction of Small and Micro Hydel Projects of 9 MW capacity; these are likely to be commissioned during 2015-17. With an objective to provide more reliable power supply and reduction of AT&C losses, 4 Sub-Stations and 6 Transmission lines all over the State are under construction/upgradation during 2014-15. Under Rural Electrification, 111 un-electrified villages have been provided electricity, 378 villages have been covered under Intensive Electrification and 15,893 BPL households have been given free connection.
• Providing safe and sufficient drinking water to all the people is one of the important commitments of my Government. The PHE Department has targeted 51 nos. of rural habitations to be provided with safe drinking water supply under National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) during 2014-2015, out of which 10 have been completed and the remaining targeted habitations will be covered during the current financial year. With funding from Special Plan Assistance (SPA); Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR); Ministry of Urban Development and North Eastern Council (NEC) a total of 28 schemes for water supply are being taken up, and some these projects are nearing completion very soon. The Department has constructed 84,647 numbers of Individual Household Latrines (IHHLs) for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families; provided 4,050 numbers of School Toilets; 1,455 numbers of Anganwadi toilets; 567 numbers of Sanitary Complexes and 72 numbers of Solid Waste Management all over the State so far.
• Providing affordable healthcare and improving healthcare facilities are given top priority by my Government. Very soon, Mizoram will have its ownMedicalCollege; various Committees formed for the establishment of theMedicalCollegeat Falkawn are working hard so that classes can commence this year in August with an intake of 50 students. Various interventional programmes to reduce and decrease the incidences of tuberculosis, malaria, blindness and leprosy through various programmes are being vigorously undertaken. The year marked the launching of two-wheeler ambulance numbering 4 (four) which is initiated as a pilot project in Aizawl urban area. The Mizoram State Health Society (MSHS) has launched Community Based Planning and Monitoring (CBPM)/Community Action for Health (CAH) Programme in Mizoram. This Programme is to develop and strengthen community involvement in accountability, planning and action mechanisms and processes to improve access and utilization of health services under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). During 2014-2015, 18 Mobile Health Teams under Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) have screened a total of 69502 children enrolled in Government and Government Aided Schools and Anganwadi Centres for 30 (thirty) health conditions identified under the programme. Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) is also projected to be implemented in 5 (five) Districts of Mizoram namely, Champhai, Mamit, Lawngtlai, Lunglei and Saiha.
• My Government has been giving thrust for rural development and upliftment of the rural poor. Under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), 1,94,686 number of job cards have been issued and 1,52,519 number of households have been provided wage employment during 2014-2015. Various schemes under Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), Border Area Development Programme (BADP), Backward Region Grant Fund (BGRF) and under Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) are being implemented for the empowerment and development of rural areas including those in border areas bridging the gaps in physical and social infrastructures.
• Education is one of the important parameters of growth and development and my Government is committed towards development of human resources. KG-I and KG-II classes will be introduced in Government Primary Schools from the next Academic Session (2015-2016) and 148 Primary Schools have been selected, to start with, as a pilot project. New Textbooks adapted from the NCERT Textbooks will be introduced in Classes I-IV from the next Academic Session. Common textbooks will be used for the first time across the State in the English medium and the Mizo Medium schools. As many as 2,035 teachers serving in various schools (including Private Schools) have been deputed for various courses of training to clear backlog of in-service untrained teachers. Special literacy drive is being conducted across the State with special attention focused on Lawngtlai, Mamit and Lunglei Districts to increase the literacy rates so that Mizoram can aim to become the most literate State. Various programmes under Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) & Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) have been carried out successfully and effectively.
• My Government continues to promote various sports disciplines and aims to provide ample sports infrastructures to the youth and the sporting talents of the State. Suaka Memorial Cricket Stadium at Sihhmui; Regional Sports Training Centre at Saidan, Kolasib; Table Tennis Hall at Mission Veng, Aizawl and Synthetic Football Turf at Chhangphut Field at Champhai have been inaugurated during the year. Full fledged stadiums at Champhai Zotlang and Lunglei Serkawn are now functioning, catering to the needs of youths. Laying of Hockey Astro Turf at Boys’HockeyAcademyin Kolasib District has been completed and will be inaugurated very soon. Nine sports stadium are being constructed across the state. During 2014-15 sportspersons from Mizoram have won three Bronze medals at International Level; three Bronze medals at Asian Championships and 39 Gold, 34 Silver and 45 Bronze Medals from National level championships.
• Improvement of urban infrastructure and urban amenities is one of the areas my Government is striving to strengthen. Under Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG), two major water supply projects, namely Augmentation of Greater Lunglei Water Supply Scheme and Serchhip Water Supply Scheme have been completed under Public Health Engineering Department. Meanwhile renovation of Aizawl Greater Water Supply Scheme, Phase-I is being implemented under PHE Department and is expected to be completed before the end of the current year of 2014-2015. Construction of Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) Housing at Lunglei, Saiha, Champhai (two projects), Kolasib (two projects), Serchhip and Mamit which will provide housing to 1950 families is 95 % completed. Various Urban Infrastructure Development projects and Slum Area Development Projects are being implemented under 10% Lumpsum Grant provisions for North East India both under the Ministry of Urban Development and the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India. Aizawl city and various towns are being covered under this provision and efforts are on to expand its coverage to all the 23 notified towns.
• My Government is doing its best to provide food and civil supplies in an equitable and transparent manner. The Department has managed equitable distribution of foodstuff to the general public thereby, ensuring food security within the State. The Department has undertaken the Computerisation of the Targeted Public Distribution System Operations in the State and currently 2,15,463 out of 2,41,272 Ration Cards (89.30%) have been digitised. For lodging of complaint and grievances, a toll free number (1967) is active. In order to promote, protect and safeguard the rights of consumers, the Department has undertaken various steps by organising consumer awareness programme/trainings in different districts, encouraging formation of Consumer Associations at State/District/Block levels and setting up Village Level Vigilance Committee to monitor delivery of PDS items within their jurisdiction.
• Protection of the natural wealth, the flora and fauna and increasing the forest cover of the State remains one of the key priorities of my Government. Loss of good-quality forests can have devastating impact on the normal structure and the delicate interdependencies of diverse flora and fauna in the forests eco-system particularly in the hilly terrain. Understanding the situation and realizing the need for conservation of forests, the Department of Environment & Forests has set an inspiring vision to achieve well-stocked high quality forests with rich bio-diversity for maintaining ecological balance and ensuring environment stability while meeting the forest-based needs of the local people. So far, more than 27 lakh seedlings have been planted or distributed for planting under the National Afforestation Programme. During the current year (2014-2015), about 2,86,000 seedlings were planted/distributed for making the State greener.
• Finance Department has been putting in utmost efforts to augment the State’s own Tax and Non-Tax Revenues and to achieve this, targets have been fixed for all Government Departments for the financial year. Efforts are being made to achieve substantial success in matters of economy measures and also to augment the State’s revenue through tax and non-tax revenues. Revenue collection by the Taxation Department for the current year 2014-2015 upto October 2014 is Rs 147.18 crore which has accounted for 62.49% of the total target of 235.41 crores earmarked for the current financial year and this is 19.8% more than the collection during the corresponding period of the previous year. The implementation of Computerization of Tax Administration under Mission Mode Project has been well received by the general population and its users. The user friendly software has helped to achieve 100% online processing of registration and almost 100% utilization of online Waybill. The total Receipt/Collection of Revenue from Lottery business during the year 2014-2015 (i.e. upto October 2014) is Rs 526.27 lakhs. During the financial year 2014-2015 upto November2014, the State Government has released Rs 7091.82 lakhs under Plan and Rs 21,669.26 lakhs under Non-Plan for achieving all round Development and proper administration in the three Autonomous District Councils.
• With a view to strengthen village administration in general my Government has introduced “The Lushai Hills District (Village Council) Act 2014”, “The Mizoram Election to Village Council Rules 2014” and “The Mizoram Animal (Control and Taxation) Act 2014” which have been passed by the 7th Legislative Assembly of Mizoram in its 4th Session. One of the important features of the bill is the reservation of one-third of the Executive Body of the Village Council for women. An Ombudsman had also been appointed to address the legal affairs of all Village Councils in Mizoram excepting Village Councils in the three Autonomous District Councils.
• My Government is fully committed to root out corruption in all its forms and at all levels and this has been one of the main agenda to achieve good governance in Mizoram. I am happy to say that Lokayukta Bill, 2014 has been passed by the Legislative Assembly in line with theCentral Lokpaland Lokayukta Act after holding a number of consultations with many NGOs, intellectuals and various stakeholders. The Mizo Marriage, Divorce and Inheritance of Property Bill, 2014 has also been passed by the Legislative Assembly in November 2014 in line with customs and traditions prevailing amongst the Mizo society. This historic Act will ensure equality of Gender in Mizo society.
• Steps are being taken to improve and strengthen industrial infrastructure and impetus is being given to bamboo sector development, food processing sector and skill development training. Square Agarbatti Stick making project for jail inmates is being implemented at Central Jail, Aizawl. Awareness Campaign on “Bamboo utilization” has been conducted at 11 different places in Mizoram. “Bamboo handicrafts cluster” at 6 places and “Agarbati cluster” at 4 different places in Mizoram have been set up. Construction work for Mizoram Handloom Export Facilitation Hub will be started shortly. The Petroleum Exploration activities in the State covers about 58.9% of the geographical area of the state and exploratory activities are being undertaken in four Blocks by the ONGC and in two Blocks by Oil India Ltd.
• A “Task Force on National Railway Project” has been constituted to function as a mechanism of continuous interaction between the Railway and the State Government so that the construction of the new railway line from Bairabi to Sairang can progress smoothly - the foundation stone of which was laid by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in December 2014 at Guwahati.
• Adventure Tourism and Eco-tourism have been identified as potential areas for attracting tourists to Mizoram and thrust has been given to develop this sector. The Department is currently undertaking the development of three trekking routes to attract the adventurous and enthusiastic travellers. Aerosports Project including Paragliding, Power-hang gliding and Hot Air Ballooning are being introduced and nine Mizo youths are currently undergoing training courses in paragliding under this project. Construction of Suakphunga’s Heritage Centre under the 13th Finance Commission at Hliappui village has been completed. Kawtchhuah Ropui at Vangchhia village, Champhai District has been declared a Centrally Protected Monument by Archaeological Survey of India. More than 50 Heritage sites and buildings within the State have been renovated and preserved with funding from 13th Finance Commission. Aizawl has been declared as one of the permanent venues for the biennially held Mumbai International Film Festival by the Films Division, Government of India.
• Under the National Land Record Modernization Programme (NLRMP), Land Revenue and Settlement Department is conducting detailed land survey of the whole area of Mizoram. Under this scheme, survey of Lunglei District has been completed while that of Aizawl District is on-going. The second phase of this Programme has been launched to cover Serchhip and Champhai Districts.
• With a view to promoting Indo-Myanmar Border Trade, the Land Customs Station (LCS) at Zokhawthar in Champhai District has been completed and is ready for commissioning/formal inauguration. Necessary infrastructures for offices of SBI, Customs, Immigration, Plant Quarantine Station and Security have been completed and Trade and Commerce Department have posted their staff. Construction ofTradeFacilitationCentreBuildinghas been completed at Vaphai for Indo-Myanmar Border Trade.
• Vigorous efforts are underway for implementation of integrated Cooperative Development Project (ICDP) in 5 Districts of Mizoram with funding from National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) at a total outlay project cost of Rs 45.33 crores for which an amount of Rs 560 lakhs has been earmarked by the State Government for the year 2014-2015.
• Under the National electronic Governance Plan (NeGP), Electronics & Mobile Service Delivery Project is envisaged to cover various services involving 33 Departments and organizations. I am proud to mention that Mizoram was awarded “EmergingICTStateof the Year” in the 5th e-North East Award held in Aizawl in November, 2014.
• A large number of major initiatives have been undertaken by the Social Welfare Department providing welfare programmes and services to the differently-abled persons, social security for the aged, infirm, poor and destitute widows. The Department is also taking up various schemes and projects for the welfare and development of women and children and socio-economic rehabilitation programme for economically and socially handicapped persons. It has also taken steps to combat drugs abuse, alcoholism, trafficking of women and children, juvenile delinquency, orphans and other social defence services in partnership with Civil Society.
In conclusion, I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all the NGOs, churches, the general public and the media for reposing their faith and trust and providing their unflinching support and co-operation to the government in all its endeavors for the development of Mizoram. I am confident that with your continued support and taking together the traditional Mizo values and traits of honesty, respect for elders, perseverance and above all the sacred ethics of ‘Tlawmngaihna’, we can soon propel ourselves forward and become a model State that can be emulated by others. On this auspicious day, I appeal to everyone to give your best for the State so that Mizoram can be a place where all can live with dignity, peace, prosperity and happiness. Let us also resolve to work for peace and harmony, growth and development and for the unity and integrity of the Nation.