It has been almost 60 years since the erstwhile Naga Hills was carved out of Assam and made a separate state. Yet Nagaland, as it is known today, does not have a medical school. A top state health department official recently said the Neiphiu Rio government is taking all steps to start the first medical college in Kohima, called Nagaland Institute of Medical Science and Research (NIMSR), by July this year.
Principal secretary, health and family welfare, Amardeep Singh S Bhatia, said that the state government has already sanctioned 60 posts of senior faculty for the medical college while more will be added in due course of time. The admission of the first batch of students will start this year, the official added.
Nagaland is known outside the northeast as the state facing India’s oldest insurgency as well as for the protracted peace talks between the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) or NSCN (I-M) with the Centre.
But a lesser-known fact is that Nagaland is India’s lone state without a medical school, the ministry of health and family welfare informed Parliament in February last year. India has a total of 562 medical colleges, of which 16 are in the northeast – Assam (8), Arunachal Pradesh (1), Manipur (2), Meghalaya (1), Mizoram (1), Tripura (2), and Sikkim (1).
Since January 2014, a total of 157 medical colleges have been approved in three phases under a centrally-sponsored scheme. The one being built in Kohima was cleared at an estimated cost of Rs 189 crore under the first phase, but is yet to see the light of the day.
The funding pattern is 90:10 by central and state governments respectively for northeastern and special category states, and 60:40 for the rest.
The Centre has already released its share of Rs 170.10 crore for the project, of which Rs 77.73 crore has been utilised and the balance amount is available with the state government, local media reports said.
If that were not enough, the second medical college project in Mon district is also in limbo, thanks to snail paced work by the state government. For the record, the Centre has released Rs 232.23 crore out of total approved cost of Rs 325 crore.
While the Nagaland government hopeful that the regulatory body – National Medical Commission – will handhold the state and grant the necessary permission to start the first college by July, people in the state are not convinced.
The Kohima bench of the Gauhati high court has pulled up the Nagaland government for its failure to file an affidavit on the status of the first medical college. The bench, which is hearing a batch of PILs on the quality of healthcare in Nagaland, has listed the matter for July 27.
Gateway to NE or gateway to hell!
The northeast has been battered by torrential rain, worsening the flood situation in several places even as the weather department forecast more downpour in the region over the next five days.
Normal life in Assam’s largest city Guwahati, the gateway to the northeast, has been severely affected in the past few days due to waterlogging caused by flash floods. Thousands of residents remained locked inside their houses as streets and bylanes in several were submerged in knee-deep water. Power supply was cut off as a precautionary measure as incidents of electrocutions are common in the rainy season.
The twin problem of flash floods and mudslides has plagued the city, once dotted with numerous hills and waterbodies, for several decades now. Experts have blamed this on the wanton destruction of hills and wetlands besides the haphazard construction, which led to a drastic change in Guwahati’s landscape.
Just cleaning drains without addressing the larger problem of soil erosion in the hills will not solve the problem of waterlogging, a Guwahati-based geologist told a local daily, adding there is a need for a radical policy intervention and the political will.
Meanwhile, the second wave of floods and mudslides in Assam have killed 46 so far this season. At least 18 districts are experiencing heavy rain, with the inundation of fresh areas reported from Kamrup, Nalbari and Barpeta districts. Nearly 75,000 people have been affected by floods in those districts, according agency reports.
Apart from Assam, extremely heavy rain was recorded at isolated places in Meghalaya, sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim, and heavy to very heavy downpour in Nagaland and Tripura, the Met department said.
‘No proof of UK doc’s ULFA links’
A UK court has absolved an Indian-origin doctor from Assam of charges of being the chairman of the proscribed United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) or ULFA (I), a rebel group from India’s northeast.
Indian authorities had moved a plea seeking extradition of Dr Mukul Hazarika, 75, a British national and general practitioner (GP) from Cleveland in northern England, accusing him of “waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting the waging of war, against the government of India and for conspiring to commit a terrorist act” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967.
It was alleged that Hazarika was also known as Abhijit Asom and was the self-styled chairman of the insurgent group. He allegedly gave speech at its training camps and was involved in recruiting new members.
However, Westminster magistrates’ court said the accused must be discharged as the particulars in the case were not satisfied.
“There is no admissible evidence that establishes that the defendant is the chairman of ULFA (I),” the District Judge Michael Snow said, rejecting the extradition plea.
Hazarika’s lawyer asserted in court that the case against him “fails to get off the ground” because of a “conspicuous absence of substantive evidence”.
Citing human rights, the lawyer argued that it would be oppressive to extradite the 75-year-old medically vulnerable physician to harsh Indian prison conditions.

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