Repair needed in Tamenglong (Manipur)!! not only of roads but also of the govt attitude !!
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Living up to the phrase, ‘Be the Change you want to see’, the citizens of Tamenglong district in Manipur are emerging as ‘Ambassadors for change and development’ following their success to break free from the chains of under-development and strive ahead through collective efforts with no support whatsoever from the government.
There is wide media coverage reiterating that the Centre’s focus is laid on the Northeast region with its “Priority” for the development of the region. The “Look East” to “Act East” policy to fast track development in the region is a common phrase often heard. Amidst the din and sound of this development buzzword, a remote district called Tamenglong, measuring around 4,391 sq. kms. with a population of 1, 37, 959 (2011 Census) remains forgotten by and large by everyone. Tamenglong District is the farthest district from the state capital, Imphal with the District HQ, itself being 147 Kms away.
Tamenglong remained the least developed district of Manipur as it had been constantly and successively neglected by the Government, obliterated from the outside world by the lack of connectivity and communication. There had been successive changes in the political and administrative landscape but basic infrastructure like good roads, schools and colleges, hospitals, power supply etc., comparable to other districts have remained unfulfilled owing to possible misappropriation/ mis-utilisation of funds leading to outright violation of socio-economic rights of the people. The NH 53, which connects the district HQ with the state capital, Imphal is in a totally dilapidated state. In fact almost 50 % of the Villages of this district are not connected by all-weather motorable Roads and remained cut off even from the world.
Frustrated by the apathy of their elected representatives and the government machinery, the common people are rising up to the call of the time, taking up the challenge of repairing the roads within Tamenglong. District Headquarter. People with serious concerns for the town, who share the idea of ‘self-determination’, the idea of ‘not waiting for the lethargic government’ to bring about development, got together and formed Society for Enhancing Tamenglong (SET) in January, 2017, a non- profit, non-political body, to repair the road through free-will contributions as there has been no major or minor repairing of the roads by concerned District Authorities.
What started out as a small group of volunteers to take up minor repair work has taken a giant leap and has now become a people’s movement. Witnessing the enthusiastic initiative of the volunteers’ working day in and day out, the town’s people from all walks of life are now involved in the movement and are determined to black top the main road of their beloved but neglected town.
Donations both in kind and cash started slowly trickling in and construction materials like bitumen, chips, boulders, sand, firewood, etc., needed for the work are being donated generously by individuals. Some locals sensitive to the requirements of the volunteers are catering tea and refreshments to the taskforce. Cash donations not only from well to do well-wishers of the town but also from day to day wage earners like auto drivers, small traders, vegetables vendors started pouring in as an expression of their solidarity and support to the cause by donating generously whatever amount they could out of their hard earned wages. The peoples’ movement has even struck a chord with the outsiders and donations have been received from people living in different parts of India and the globe viz. Canada, Norway, UAE, USA etc., who probably would never get a chance to visit Tamenglong in their lifetime.
The common man of this far away district of Manipur sandwiched between Assam and Nagaland has proved the old adage, “where there is a will there is a way” true. With such overwhelming support from people and not the government machinery, the black topping of about ½ km of the town road is completed and the remaining stretch of about 1 km more is expected to be completed soon. Mr. T.P Cornelius, Secretary, SET, when contacted mentioned that the original plan was to carry out minor repair work by filling up the large deep gorges like potholes within an estimated budget of Rs.6.00 Lakh but now feels that black topping the road with tar and bitumen will provide a long lasting solution. To achieve this, funds of about Rs. 20.00 lakh would be required, which he is optimistic will come forward from well-wishers. He also added that the SET has so far received cash donation of about Rs.3.00 Lakh, excluding the donation of construction materials.
However such voluntary efforts are no substitute for any developmental program of the District Administration, which includes provision of infrastructure like roads, medical facilities, educational institutes, parks and gardens etc,. The people of this beautiful place tucked away in one remote corner of the world are still longing for such basic facilities.
Would the government and the administrative authorities wake up from its deep slumber or wait until the common people step out again voluntarily to build hospitals, colleges, roads etc,.?
The updates on the endeavors of these selfless volunteers toiling and sweating for a better Tamenglong can be viewed at the Tamenglong Concern Group on Facebook.
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