Buying land in Nagaland is a tricky business.
Coming from a tribal background where the land was always owned by the people and carefully divided amongst the different families of every village, the Indian government was forced to respect the inheritance law of the Naga people and so it has remained in the hands of the people to this day. This might seem like a nice idea, but it has also had its downside, especially when it comes to the development of the state. One example being the development of roads.
Having been moved in our spirits to bring good quality healthcare to underdeveloped central Nagaland, we were looking for a good plot of land that would serve the purpose and at the same time be available and affordable. Stemming from the “Ao” tribe of Changki village (in Mokokchung district), Sungti and his father knew it was the only area they would lawfully be allowed to purchase land. So they set out to inquire amongst fellow villagers about well-located, available land. Unfortunately their search was futile.
Mokokchung district is in the centre of Nagaland, up in the hills, the area belonging to the tribe of the “Ao”. Mokokchung is the capital, a town with about 35’000 inhabitants at an elevation of 1’325m above sea level. The climate is subtropical with a heavy monsoon (rainy season) and cool winters.
In contrast to Kohima, the capital of Nagaland, there is the trend of sub-urbanization in Mokokchung. It started in the nineteen- eighties causing the surrounding villages to spread towards Mokokchung town. Many people prefer to settle outside the town and commute daily to work.
Settsu is a tiny suburban village between Alichen and Ungma, two other suburbs of Mokokchung.
It happened that some people from Settsu, heard about Sungti and his dad’s quest and the desire to build a hospital. Having a dire need of reliable health care facilities, they held a village council to discuss the issue of selling village land to a person from another village. It caused a lot of upheaval, as it is simply against village law.
Finally though, they came to an agreement and not only were willing to sell a big piece of land, but were willing to bring the price down to a minimum. The hope of an upcoming hospital was just too good to refuse.
So, on the 29th April 2014, after long emotional negotiations, the sales deed was officially signed.
The land is situated along the main road to Nagaland University, and is about 20-30 minutes’ drive from Mokokchung. Just below it lies the Institute of Communication and Information Technology and a little further up the road is the main power plant of the area.