The Wazeho Cement Plant in Nagaland's Phek district has been a subject of concern and debate for nearly two decades.
Established as a 50 TPD (Tonnes Per Day) facility, it operated successfully from 1992 until 2003.
However, the decision to upgrade the plant to a 150 TPD capacity with machinery from Saboo Engineering Pvt Ltd led to controversy and operational failure.
Despite warnings from officials at the Nagaland State Mineral Development Corporation (NSMDC) about the inferior quality of the machinery, the state government proceeded with the upgrade.
The RPP (Rising People’s Party) alleges that some current politicians were involved in this decision, suggesting that kickbacks or bribes may have influenced the procurement of substandard equipment.
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The economic implications of this shutdown have been significant. The region, which could have prospered, remained economically stagnant due to what the RPP describes as unethical and potentially criminal actions by certain politicians.
The RPP is calling for an investigation into these events and opposes any move towards privatization of the plant.
In line with the RPP's stance, the Nagaland Legislative Assembly's Committee on Public Undertakings (COPU) for 2020-21 recommended that the Wazeho Cement Plant should be run by the state government rather than being privatized.
This recommendation came after multiple unsuccessful attempts to privatize the plant post-upgrade, with private investors backing out due to factors such as high transportation costs and poor road conditions.
The NSMDC chairman has been reminded of the COPU's recommendation and the potential for reviving the plant with an investment of Rs. 20-30 crore. The RPP argues that if the state coalition can allocate substantial funds to MLAs, the required investment for the cement plant should be feasible.
The RPP emphasizes that the NSMDC employees at the Wazeho factory are capable of running the plant efficiently. With the nearing completion of two-lane connectivity to Burma via Wazeho and the Avangkhu International Trade Centre, the RPP envisions a prosperous future for the Meluri sub-division.
They suggest that the revival of the cement plant could make Meluri the richest per capita area in the state, given Burma's demand for cement and the potential economic benefits akin to a Moreh-like township.
The fate of the Wazeho Cement Plant remains a contentious issue, with calls for government action to revive the plant and ensure the economic development of the region.
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