Kohima: An ongoing infrastructure project at the Kohima Orphanage and Destitute Home in Nagaland, which was approved and sanctioned by the North Eastern Council (NEC), is lying abandoned as the nodal agency has reportedly closed funding for the project.
The project, ‘Infrastructure Development at Kohima Orphanage Home’, was sanctioned and approved by NEC in 2017-18 for an amount of Rs 2.84 crore. The NEC had also released an amount of Rs 19.57 lakh as the first installment for the project. Even as the work is underway, the funding was closed by the nodal agency last year, raising concerns over the future of the project.
Taking to Twitter, adviser to chief minister Abu Metha said: “Another matter that is creating distress & suffering for the innocent and underprivileged children.”
Metha also attached a copy letter that he had written to Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio along with photographs of the abandoned structures.
In the letter, Metha said: “The decision of the North Eastern Council (NEC) to cancel an ongoing infrastructure project is indeed very unfortunate.”
He highlighted that the inmates of Kohima Orphanage and Destitute Home, which has about a hundred children, live in very challenging and underprivileged conditions.
According to Metha, following the release of the first instalment for the project by the NEC, the state government also released its share to “ensure smooth implementation of the project”.
According to Metha, the reports by the department concerned showed that the progress of the work was “good with completion of 30 per cent”. He said that through an office memorandum in May last year, the NEC had declared the project closed “as is where is as per the approval of the Competent Authority”.
“The memorandum even says that the state government should refund the funds with accrued interest,” wrote Metha.
He highlighted that subsequently, the social welfare department had written to the planning department to take up the matter with “the competent authority” to reconsider closure of the project.
Metha, who had visited the orphanage home earlier this month, said that the unfinished structure “remains standing like a sore thumb in the heart of the orphanage as an abandoned building”.
He added that the management of the orphanage is unable to approach “the competent authority” and even explained “their predicament with tears” during the visit.
“This matter seems to have been handled in a very insensitive manner with little regard for the welfare of the unfortunate orphans and underprivileged children. The Honorable Chief Minister may kindly address this matter with a humanitarian approach and resolve the issue,” he added.
Through a tweet, Metha also added: “Policy decisions must be made keeping sensitivities in mind and understand humanitarian needs. Hope the competent authority will resolve this issue in the interest of humanity.”
Meanwhile, as per official records, the NEC had sanctioned the first instalment of Rs 19.57 lakh in March 2018 for the project. The grant was directed to be utilised on the project as approved by the NEC administrative order.
The state government was required to release the state share immediately on receipt of the central share and the certificate of actual utilization of the grant was required to be submitted within 12 months of release by the NEC.
At the time of conveying the sanction, the NEC had also mentioned that the entire assistance in the form of grant is “provisional” and is subject to adjustment on the basis of audited figures of expenditure of the NEC plan and scheme for 2017-18.
Accordingly, the state government released its share of Rs 2,17,000 against the project in April 2019. Through an office memorandum in May 2020, the NEC informed the closure of the funding which had come to effect in March the same year.
The NEC had also directed the state government to release unspent released fund with accrued interest, to the consolidated fund of India, with acknowledgement to NEC.