State Report of Mizoram

the Concluding Session
Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi
On24th November, 2019

Hon’ble President
Hon’ble Vice-President
Hon’ble Prime Minister
Hon’ble Home Minister
Hon’ble Governors and Lieutenant Governors.

It is with great pride and privilege that I present a report on my State of Mizoram at my first ever Conference of Governors. Mizoram, as we all know, is a small State with a population of only about 12 lakhs. It is a landlocked State, situated in the southernmost tip of North East India. However, the strategic location of the State makes it possible for Mizoram to act as an important land-bridge between the two countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar. And due to the long international border that it shares with Myanmar, Mizoram has the potential to be the Gateway to South East Asia and beyond, in active pursuance of the Act East Policy of India.

Mizoram has been taking a lot of steps towards good governance which are bearing positive outcomes. With a view to making the capital city of Aizawl a ‘Plastic Free City’ from 2nd October this year, the Aizawl Municipal Corporation has passed the requisite Bye-Laws. And in order to ease traffic congestion in Aizawl City, a new scheme called Parking House Support Scheme (PAHOSS) has been launched, which provides financial assistance for the construction of parking lots.

Regarding the health sector, Mizoram has topped the smaller states of India according to the Second Performance on Health Outcomes Index released by NITI Aayog. It is also noteworthy that Mizoram has become the first among the states of North East India to successfully complete implementation of SAUBHAGYA (Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana).

And while Mizoram has already been declared the 13th Open Defecation Free (ODF) State in India, efforts are underway to make Mizoram one of the cleanest states in the country. For a small State with only 23 Census towns, I must mention that as many as 3 towns of Mizoram bagged National Awards at this year’s ‘Swachh Survekshan’. And the fact that cleanliness is a way of life here is exemplified by Smt. Laltharzeli of Mamit District, who won the National Award for her cleanliness initiatives, which include the setting up of 85 Children Sanitation Clubs.

Coming to economic potential, the State of Mizoram is blessed with an abundance of bamboo, which is an asset of such value that it has been rightly termed as ‘Green Gold’. With 32.07% of the total geographical area under bamboo cover, Mizoram accounts for 14% of the bamboo cultivation in India. For a State with very limited resource base and little avenue for income-generation, the huge untapped wealth in the form of bamboo offers a viable solution. As such, the current State Government has made it a top priority to harness this rich bamboo resource. I believe that this is an initiative worthy of all possible assistance from the Centre.

I am happy to report that the State has come up with its own healthcare policy called the Mizoram State Health Care Scheme, which it has seamlessly dovetailed with the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY). Under AB-PMJAY, entitlement is based on the deprivation and occupational criteria of the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC). The Mizoram State Health Care Scheme fills the gap by extending coverage to those left out of AB-PMJAY, by providing health insurance cover of Rs.2 lakhs per family per year. You will be happy to learn that all the MLAs of Mizoram, including the Council of Ministers, have agreed to contribute 1% of their total salaries every month into the Mizoram State Health Care Scheme premium.

The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (KMMTTP) is a colossal connectivity project undertaken by the Government of India to connect Kolkata with the Sittwe Port of Myanmar, which will then connect Mizoram and ultimately North East India. Currently, the Northeast of India is connected to mainland India only via a narrow stretch of land at West Bengal called the “Chicken’s Neck” Siliguri Corridor. The KMMTTP will considerably reduce the distance via the Siliguri Corridor, while providing a valuable alternate source of connectivity between the North East and mainland India. However, in order for the region to fully exploit this advantage, the land route running through the State of Mizoram, especially the National Highways connecting to Assam and Tripura, requires massive upgradation. Alongside, the work of extending the railway network to connect to the KMMTTP in the southern part of Mizoram needs to be expedited.

Connectivity in all its dimensions remains a bottleneck for Mizoram. In this era of massive push towards a Digital India, I am pained to report that the BharatNet Project has so far failed to take off in Mizoram. Laying of OFC has been slow and poorly done. Additionally, I have learned that attempts are being made to connect the Optical Fibre Cables (OFC) overhead instead of underground, citing the incidences of frequent landslides in Mizoram. I believe this attempt needs to be relooked at, as landslides occur only at few places. If laying of OFC cables underground has distinct advantages, this method must be followed to the extent possible.

On the issue of disaster-preparedness, as mentioned, Mizoram is prone to landslides and land subsidence. In order to mitigate this problem, assistance is required from the Centre by way of technical support. A detailed mapping of disaster-prone areas from all angles, including geological, may provide valuable solutions on how to tackle this perennial problem.

On the health front, while the State of Mizoram performs admirably in terms of primary health indicators such as Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate, a lot is left to be desired when it comes to advanced medical healthcare such as multi disciplinary specialities. The State lags far behind in terms of modern medical facilities, including state-of-the-art equipments and super-speciality departments. The State Government hospitals still do not have a single MRI and Pet Scan Machine. Therefore, a demand which merits consideration is the setting up of an AIIMS-like institution in Mizoram.

Coming back to the potential of Mizoram to become the Gateway to South East Asia, it is unfortunate that trade at the border is still not fully functional. The Land Custom Station (LCS) at Zokhawthar on the Indo-Myanmar Border, which is the lone trade route for Mizoram with South East Asia, is still awaiting upgradation with full-fledged components. For a vigorous push towards the Act East Policy, trade at the border needs to be urgently formalised and institutionalised. In order to achieve this, attention must be paid to the construction of the already identified ‘border haats’ along the Indo-Myanmar border, and the Integrated Check Posts (ICP) along the Indo-Bangladesh border.

With these few points, I once again stress that although the State of Mizoram is doing the best it can with its limited capacities, a lot of handholding is required from the Centre. And I am certain that this assistance will continue to be forthcoming in the true spirit of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Jai Hind.